In the previous age (which we might call "analog", but that might be misleading), there was generally only one workflow: start with a point of view or subject, take out your camera, and deliver your artwork as a final print. Right now, in this moment, there are a seemingly endless set of workflows available to photographers, artists, and anyone else who wants to mix together disparate media. Once again, we start with a point of view or subject, but then both the choices for methods and outputs quickly multiply. Images can be captured with a camera, drawn/appropriated from a physical or digital archive, generated with a computer, constructed in a darkroom, or recombined as a mutant hybrid. Artworks can take the final form of traditional prints, moving videos and films, self published books, physical objects of nearly any form, or digital files with only an Internet presence. The photographic reality of this moment is "freedom of workflow" and this exhibit offers countless examples of how this idea is manifesting itself as innovative artwork.For those who are interested in achieving targeted change or social impact, this is a critical time to innovate, for the entire ecosystem of the image is in flux, and with the flux comes opportunity. On the one hand this can be a process of open ended discovery, and on the other hand it can be a process that strategically targets specific issues to drive a desired outcome or change. There is a symbiotic relationship between these two with distinctly different ways of working.
In 2009 I read a paper at Northwestern University titled Representing the Unrepresentable that concluded that it was not only the workflow, although that is essential, but the business ecosystem that work is produced within that is the ultimate limiting factor on how images exert social influence. Underneath the workflow is a business model, and that unseen flow of money, resources and access is the foundation that ultimately shapes the flow.
Because business models deal with the flow of money and ultimately power, this next phase in the development of the image promises to be the most disruptive yet. It will not be technology that guides this, although it is essential, but strategy. I can't wait to see the next Triennial. Boom.