Contemporary artists explore and question the impact of social media on photography

Stephanie Kneissl & Maximilian Lackner Stop The Algorithm, 2017. Courtesy the artists

All I Know Is What’s On The Internet is a new exhibition from The Photographers’ Gallery presenting work of contemporary artists seeking to map, visualise and question the cultural dynamics of 21st century photography in a social media age.

Traditionally, photography has played a unique role in documenting the world and helping us to make sense of ourselves and each other. In today’s climate, however – where digital images flow, multiply and accelerate online with such unparalleled speed and force – the cultural responsibility of understanding an individual photograph is being usurped by the industrial challenge of processing millions of images.

In a world where visual knowledge has become inextricably linked to a ‘like’ economy subject to the (predominantly invisible) actions of bots, crowd-sourced workers, Western tech companies and intelligent machines, All I Know Is What’s On The Internet considers the changing status of photography, as well as the role and agency of the photographer within this new context. Importantly, it asks what new forms of economic value and media illiteracy arise from the endless recirculation of content online.

Moving beyond the glossy façade of our device’s screens, which seem to disavow any sense of industry or effort behind our 24/7 content feed, the participating artists draw attention to the neglected corners of the photography and global image economy, making visible the scale of human labour required to support it.

Their ‘interrogations’ draw on the experiences of content moderators, Google Street View photographers, and the global workforce employed by Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to describe images for machine vision algorithms.

Through a diverse range of projects, which disrupt, confuse or question these new image economies, All I Know Is What’s On The Internet presents a radical exploration of photography’s cultural value at a time when the boundaries between truth and fiction, machine and human are being increasingly called into question.

The exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in Great Newport Street, London runs from 26 October 2018 until 24 February 2019. Discover more: thephotographersgallery.org.uk.

Andrew Norman Wilson Scanops (2012-ongoing): North Of England Institute of Mining Engineers. Transactions, Volume 9 306. Courtesy of the artist

Andrew Norman Wilson Scanops (2012-ongoing): North Of England Institute of Mining Engineers. Transactions, Volume 9 306. Courtesy of the artist

Stephanie Kneissl & Maximilian Lackner Stop The Algorithm, 2017. Courtesy the artists

Stephanie Kneissl & Maximilian Lackner Stop The Algorithm, 2017. Courtesy the artists

Constant, Dullaart PVA Formation (M2-17), 2017. Courtesy of the Artist

Constant, Dullaart PVA Formation (M2-17), 2017. Courtesy of the Artist

Eva and Franco Mattes Dark Content,2016 Customized Ikea desks, monitors, videos, headphones, various cables. Exhibition view, BAK, Utrecht

Eva and Franco Mattes Dark Content,2016 Customized Ikea desks, monitors, videos, headphones, various cables. Exhibition view, BAK, Utrecht

Constant, Dullaart PVA Formations (mirror_ fields), 2017 DETAIL. Courtesy of the artist

Constant, Dullaart PVA Formations (mirror_ fields), 2017 DETAIL. Courtesy of the artist

Jonas Lund Operation Earnest Voice, 2018, installation/performance. Courtesy the artist

Jonas Lund Operation Earnest Voice, 2018, installation/performance. Courtesy the artist