The Glocal Project: Jer Thorp, M. Simon Levin, Sylvia Grace Borda

The Glocal Project is a collaborative, multifaceted artist-led project that examines the changing role of digital image making today.  The digital revolution has included the global proliferation of millions of image-taking devices (such as digital cameras, video recorders, cell phones, and PDAs) and the sharing of billions of images through online networking and archival sites (such as Flickr). As this democratization of digital technologies makes the ability to make photographic images so ubiquitous, Glocal is interested in looking at the implications of the changing roles and relations of images within the field of visuality. Glocal is particularly interested in exploring the construction and relevance of the “unique” or “originary” image in relation to the multiple or “multitude”. How can an image retain its ‘unique’ nature as resistance against being subsumed into the multitude? How can we understand the nature of “uniqueness”? Does it remain a relevant concept for digital image making? Through an interactive installation as well as a series of on-line platforms, Glocal examines the new digital lives of images.

Glocal has been in development for the past year, incubating in the Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab as an artist in residence project. Starting from scratch, the team has developed software tools, and hardware gadgets, and experimented with various prototypes of presentation formats and interactivity models. At the same time, the team has led various community engagement projects, built curriculum for numerous high school and university workshops, and assembled a large networks of volunteers, educators and supporters. For this event, the Glocal artists will be presenting the culmination of their research/creation. Viewers will be able to interact with the touch-table prototype that explores the aggregation within their 20,0000+  image archive, and view a series of large software-generated photographic ‘similarity structures’. These ‘similarity structures’ imagine how an anthropologist might attempt to build relationships between images within the archive. Using an algorithm which calculates compositional similarity between images, elaborate maps and phylogenetic trees are generated, modeling possible links between images. These temporally unique visual structures attempt to examine the complex relational environments that surround images in an online space.