Mosaics and multiples: Online digital photography and the framing of heritage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Digital photographs do not just come in ones, twos and carefully assembled collections, but in vast numbers, arrayed in file stores and as outputs on web search engines, as well as social media and photo sharing sites. Digital images appear as thumbnails arranged on grids like collectibles in display cases or postage stamps in an album. A stamp makes little sense to the collector as a singular item. The digital collector similarly deals in multiples. Digital photographs are deposited in very large numbers from digital cameras, to be sorted, arranged, ordered, compared and shared (Treib 2011). Digital photographs present themselves in large numbers to both the individual photographer and to audiences and consumers.
Ernst Gombrich’s influential book Art and Illusion and W. J. T. Mitchell’s Picture Theory pay attention to individual images and classes of images (Gombrich 1960; Mitchell 1995; Mitchell 2005) without overtly addressing images en mass. In this chapter we examine the implications for heritage matters of the dynamic flow of large volumes of imagery.
This strategy affords a critique of digital photography and an opportunity to examine the role and impact of emerging online practices on how people come to understand space, place and heritage. What does this hyper-accretion of images mean for heritage matters?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHeritage and Social Media
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding heritage in a participatory culture
EditorsElisa Giaccardi
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-61662-1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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