The Visura Media Blog

Organization
    
Location: Brooklyn
Biography: The Visura (Vē-su’-ra: Be seen) Blog features Visura highlights, essays, and announcements—including grants, partnerships, events and open call opportunities and results. 
Reframe
Reframe | Fred Ritchin & the Post-Photographic Challenge, Part I
written by clary estes for the visura media blog
Mar 25, 2019

Editor's Note: For the first installment of this multi-part series, writer Clary Estes sat down with educator, author & Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography (ICP) School Fred Ritchin to discuss the role technology has played in visual storytelling, photojournalism, and media, including the challenges and opportunities of the digital media revolution since the mid-1980s.  

PART I / PART IIPART III


Let’s face it. It’s no surprise but we can fix this. 
 


Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography (ICP) School Fred Ritchin has been portending the challenges and opportunities of the digital media revolution and its consequences on the photojournalism landscape since the mid-1980s. From the biggest photo-manipulation scandals of the 1980s and 90s that contributed to the normalization of misrepresentation of the image from a literal to a contextual perspective—Ritchin has been scrutinizing the role of technology and its ethical standards, issues, and opportunities with the hope to course-correct years of sequential ethical missteps.

Ever vigilant to the shifts, ethical issues, challenges and opportunities of the photojournalism and visual storytelling industries, Ritchin has been a kind of lighthouse in our often murky industry, warning of missteps and lighting the way for photographers, editors and audiences during the digital age. An advocate for rigorous ethical standards in photojournalism, Ritchin can be said to be interested by those who use their or others’ visual media in a way that “comfort[s] the afflicted and afflict[s] the comfortable,” ( as Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley postulated in the 1893 Chicago Evening Post ). Fred Ritchin has made a name for himself disturbing the complacent, especially when some of those are the very gatekeepers and cornerstones that brace the photojournalism industry.

The Response 300 system


Ritchin’s path as an ethical philosopher in the photojournalism industry’s move into the digital began when he proposed an article on the subject in the early 1980s to the New York Times Magazine, where he had been picture editor. It was then that he was first introduced in person to Scitex America Corporation’s Response 300 system,  a computerized color prepress system which included an integrated color drum scanner, image editing workstation, and laser film plotter.

Through this new technology, he foresaw an inevitable future shift transpiring in the landscape of photography as it moved into the digital age.

Demonstrated at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress EXPO in Milan, Italy in 1979the Response 300 system was the first foray into the brave new world of photographic digital image manipulation and printing. The system allowed Ritchin to take a photograph of the New York City skyline by Gianfranco Gorgoni, insert objects and change various aspects of the image seamlessly. Throughout the image, Ritchin was able to shrink, grow, move and turn around or remove all together buildings within the frame, as well as add international landmarks within the vista (for example, the Eiffel Tower).

While today we take such manipulation for granted (even the most amateur digital photographer is able to manipulate the New York skyline on their personal computer or from a cell phone), in 1984, the technology was unprecedented and cutting edge. Back then, the camera was just starting on its way to becoming nearly analogous to its cousin, the computer. As cameras traded their gears and mirrors for pixels and image sensors, the image has become a philosophical stranger to the analog photojournalism of the mid-century. One can argue that a photograph is now more analogous to algorithmic streams of data than physical documents etched from silver and light.


“The computer is at the heart of a revolution in image-making."
—Fred Ritchin



Ritchin explained in his 1984 New York Times Magazine piece, 'Photography’s New Bag of Tricks': “The computer is at the heart of a revolution in image-making. It is now possible not only to make almost seamless composites of existing photographs and to alter images in such a way that the changes may not be detected but - using mathematics instead of a camera - it is possible to create images that are nearly photographic in their realism." With the last technique, it might even be possible at some future date to ''recreate'' long-dead movie stars to appear in new movies.”

Fast forward to 2019, where these predictions have become a quotidian reality of digital media creation, publishing, and distribution. The digital image has developed into a kind of boggart able to shift from one meaning to another across photographers, cultures, digital platforms, publishing outlets, and viewers.

From the Hollywood CGI resurrection of Peter Cushing, the more nefarious development of AI used to face-swap Hollywood stars into pornographic films, the questionable or fallacious photojournalism contests, awards and winners, to the digitally atrophied fashion models monopolizing magazine covers and the “fake news” images and stories virally spreading misinformation across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and beyond, images are undoubtedly more than what meets the eye.

As a result, our industry must evaluate its present landscape and analyze the role of technology in image-making, publishing, and distribution. We also need to evaluate how digital photography and its interaction with social media affect the monetary value of the visual media content itself within the marketplace. As our community is working to prioritize actively addressing the problem of misrepresentation, along with the systematic devaluation of the image, in the media industry today rigorous evaluation has become ever more important.

Written by Clary Estes
Editor: Adriana Teresa Letorney
Published March 21, 2019

In Part 2, which will be published next Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019—Clary Estes examines some of the subsequent events in the history of the digital photojournalism industry that he predicted in the early 80s after first examining the Response 300 system.  We explore Ritchin’s first foray into the discussion of image manipulation, and how liberties taken early on by publishers not only affected Ritchin’s trajectory as a philosopher of the industry but also prompted some of the problematic situations visual storytelling and photojournalism in media is coping with today.  


NEXT



3,870

By The Visura Media Blog —

News Reframe

In conversation with Jin Ding at IWMF about The Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award

By The Visura Media Blog — The International Women Media Foundation (IWMF)— www.iwmf.org —  is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization   that offers safety..
Events News

Submit to 2020 IWMF Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award via Visura

By The Visura Media Blog — Visura is honored to welcome the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) to the Visura community and invites female photojournalists..
News Reframe

Video: Johanna Alarcón on the power of Photography

By Directed by Adriana Teresa Letorney for Visura — Visura founder Adriana Teresa Letorney interviews Ecuadorian photojournalist Johanna Alarcón  (Johis) for this new series highlighting..
Books News

Pieter Hugo book signing for La Cucaracha on Thursday, Jan 16 at Dashwood Books in NY

By The Visura Media Blog — Dashwood Books invites you for a book signing with photographer Pieter Hugo on Thursday, January 16th from 6-8 pm.   Located at 33 Bond St New..
Events News

Exhibition: La Cucharacha by Pieter Hugo at Yossi Milo Gallery

By The Visura Media Blog — La Cucaracha January 10 – February 29, 2020 Yossi Milo Gallery 245 Tenth Avenue (between 24th & 25th St.) New York, NY 10001 Yossi Milo..
Books News

Books we recommend: The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion By Antwaun Sargent

By The Visura Media Blog — In The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion , curator and critic Antwaun Sargent addresses a radical transformation taking place..
News Spotlight

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE VISURA FAMILY!!!

By The Visura Media Blog — Dear Visura Family, Thank you. Thank you for being a part of the Visura community—and for standing with us year after year.  Thank you..
Events News

Join us at the VISURA ANNUAL BOOK SIGNING HOLIDAY PARTY on Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at Foley Gallery in New York

By The Visura Media Blog — Hosted by Foley Gallery on Thursday, December 19th from 7:00 pm -10:00 pm— Visura & Foley Gallery are pleased to invite you to THE 2019..
Events News

Exhibition: Yamamoto Masao at Yancey Richardson

By The Visura Media Blog — Yamamoto Masao Itteki December 12, 2019 - February 8, 2020 Opening Reception and Book Signing: Thursday, December 12, 6-8 pm..
News Videos

V-Talks: Journalist and activist Ahmed Benchemsi at the Visura Salon

By The Visura Media Blog — Watch Journalist and activist Ahmed Benchemsi share his personal story and views on how the Middle East and North Africa are represented in Western..
News Reframe

on The Daring: Visura Founder Adriana Teresa Letorney - Parts of a Whole

By Interview by Ioana Friedman for The Daring — “From a tech perspective, we always have a choice. Do we want to foster respect, integrity, kindness, and unity, even when we differ? And..
Events News

Festival: FotoMéxico 2019

By The Visura Media Blog — An initiative of Centro de la Imagen: The FotoMéxico Festival presents over 100 exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout Mexico...
Events News

Exhibition: #InHonor: Monoliths by Ervin A. Johnson at Arnika Dawkins Gallery

By The Visura Media Blog — ARNIKA DAWKINS GALLERY #INHONOR: MONOLITHS 11 OCT 2019 - 7 FEB 2020 Arnika Dawkins Gallery presents native Chicagoan artist Ervin A. Johnson. A..
News Reframe

SPOTLIGHT: Antonio Pulgarin & The Sun that Frightens the Cold

By Interview by Clary Estes for The Visura Media Blog — Antonio Pulgarin is a Colombian-American lens-based artist who uses photography, photographic collage and mixed media. Recently, Pulgarin announced..
Events News

Visura announces Scout Film Festival 2020 at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

By The Visura Media Blog — Visura is delighted to announce the return of Scout Film Festival for its fourth year from April 17-18, 2020! Founded by Anna Colavito and..
News Spotlight

Ecuadorian photographer Johanna "Johis" Alarcón joins the 2019 Fall Visura Mentorship Program in New York

By The Visura Media Blog — Visura is delighted to welcome 27-year-old photographer and educator Johanna "Johis" Alarcón to the invite-only 2019 Visura..
News Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: Delphine Diallo, The Divine Feminine

By The Visura Media Blog — Editor's Note:  Delphine Diallo  is a Brooklyn-based French and Senegalese visual artist and photographer. With a focus on..
News Spotlight

Friday For Future: Young Children Protesting Climate Change

By The Visura Media Blog — Friday, September 20th, 2019—Gabriel Robert Letorney, age 5, represented the Visura.co family and joined his ps10 public school community in..
News Reframe v_features

Reframe | Stephen Mayes & The State of Photojournalism, Part I

By Written by Clary Estes for The Visura Media Blog — Editor's note: The Reframe Column is a series of essays and interviews aimed at examining new media and visual storytelling. For this..
News Spotlight v_features

Reframe | Stephen Mayes & The State of Photojournalism, Part II

By Written By Clary Estes For The Visura Media Blog — Editor's note: The Reframe Column is a series of essays and interviews aimed at examining new media and visual storytelling. For this..
News Spotlight v_features

Reframe | Stephen Mayes & The State of Photojournalism, Part III

By Written by Clary Estes for The Visura Media Blog — Editor's note: The Reframe Column is a series of essays and interviews aimed at examining new media and visual storytelling. For this..
News

Introducing Team Access

By The Visura Media Blog — Collectives and groups can now collaborate on one account with multiple logins using our new Team Access  feature. Team access allows a user..
Books News Spotlight v_features

Essay & Interview | Spotlight with Joan Liftin, photographer and photo editor

By The Visura Media Blog — Editor's Note: Visura "Spotlight Series" presents interviews with visual storytellers, photo editors, curators, writers, publishers,..
Events News Spotlight

Join us tonight at the Visura Salon event starting at 7:00 PM at powerHouse Lounge in DUMBO, Brooklyn

By The Visura Media Blog — Visura is delighted to announce the participating photographers in the slideshow storytelling presentation curated by guest speaker, journalist,..
Join us
for more access