No. 258

Behind White Shadows of Image Processing

By : rosa menkman

Entrant’s location : Netherlands



In Behind White Shadows, the "Angel of History" sends its friends and colleagues an email with the photos of two female figures attached. These two images, modelled after real women, are still seen by many people. However their name and identity remain unknown. The Angel writes: "While contemplating these images, I had to think about other women, whose faces were put through similar histories. Forever resonating within the realms of image processing - wether they chose this fate themselves or not. As it seems your face is amongst them, I wondered if you could share some of your insights." The Angel receives replies subsequently from the leader ladies, Lena, Ariane and a render ghost.

What did you create?

A video in the genre of desktop video. Different actors from the real history of color image test cards

Why did you make it?

While digital photography seems to reduce the effort of taking an image of the face, such as a selfie or a portrait, to a straightforward act of clicking, these photos, stored and created inside (digital) imaging technologies do not just take and save an image of the face. In reality, a large set of biased - gendered and even racist - protocols intervene in the processes of saving the face to memory. As a result, what gets resolved, and what gets lost during the process of resolving the image is often unclear. To uncover and get a better insight into the processes behind the biased protocols that make up these standard settings, we need to come back to asking certain basic questions: who gets decide the hegemonic conventions that resolve the image? And why and how do these standards come into being? Through an examination of the history of the color test card, I aim to provide some answers to these issues.

How did you make it?

I created a desktop space covered with application icons all referring to different characters that took part some way or another in the standardization and testing of (color) test cards. Some of them I animated using technologies that seem conceptually sound with the time of the conceiving of their test cards. The protagonist of the video is The Angel of History - who has finally found a way to not just move backwards into the future, but to connect broken signals once again via a technology called "syphon". This is how the Angel of History and Lena finally make a (short) connection.

Your entry’s specification

It should preferably be shown on a desktop computer (apple os)