onbevangen.nl
07-03-2013 mag 7 /

article/

Digital photography and its aesthetic

Abstract: 

Pierre Bourdieu‘s distinction meets digital photography on Flickr. My objective is to
investigate the relationship between a cupcake and aesthetics.

When we think about digital photography nowadays, ideas of high quality as well as smartphone cameras and software come to mind. In the last centuries photography has not only evolved to a highly technological but also to a daily and social practice Without hesitation we share personal moments with friends on Facebook, add atmosphere to pictures with Instagram filters and exhibit our photographic practice (skills?) on Flickr. Especially on Flickr the boundaries between professionals and amateurs seems to blur. The popularity of pictures does not necessarily have something to do with artistic or technological skills anymore. Blurry and low quality snapshots can be as popular as high quality photography.

Members of the Flickr community appear to create their own rules and make their own judgments which creates a new aesthetics. Anybody and anything can become part of such a new aesthetics which is classified as mundane, fleeting and emotional by Susan Murray. She described the roots and characteristics of this apparently new form of pictures as a way to express oneself and tell stories.

This article picks up Murray‘s everyday aesthetic and questions the creation of aesthetic rules and judgements in a social context. Pierre Bourdieu‘s approach of cultural capital and social classes provides an interesting angle to investigate the appearance and development of aesthetic judgments in a social community.

Further, it relates aesthetics to different forms of capital, to taste and finally to a classification of social classes. Bourdieu‘s concept was published in the 1960‘s and mainly focused on the French society.

A question rises: Is such a complex investigation transferrable to the heterogenous and international community called Flickr and if so how?.