Interactive photographs are not only sensitive to light, they are also sensitive to the beholder's scrutiny.

As one caresses the picture's surface, the latter's content evolves, dissolves, or otherwise changes in response to the observer's attention. Landscopes is a series of works which explore both natural and inhabited landscapes. Each picture experiments with techniques and typologies that research the multiple forms of expression offered by interactive photography.

Here comes the Sun

Ayguesvives, Canal du Midi


Granada, Albaicin

The town
that never sleeps

Benidorm, Costa Blanca


Toulouse, Place de la Daurade


Jerusalem, Old City

Thank God it's Friday

Jerusalem, Western Wall


Jerusalem, Egged bus line 4

Winter's Water

Port de Lers, Ariège

Double Crossing

Petah Tiqva, Yarqon Interchange

Over the river
and into the trees

Paris, Bir-Hakeim Bridge

The Focus Puller

Petra Olympou, Macedonia (Greece)

This is made possible by the junction between traditional photography in its most recent, digital metamorphosis, and the algorithmic opportunities for user impelled, dynamic image processing offered by the computer. It is the multiple variations of programming which, by endlessly recombining a series of images, add a new dimension of meaning and poetry transcending that which exists within the individual pictures themselves.


Digital photography has become a serious competitor for film. An enormous choice of excellent quality cameras is available. The use of digital equipment has become commonplace in the professional sphere, overcoming the initial reserve of many photographers. In many cases the quality offered is akin to that of film. While analogical photography may have a timbre, a grain of its own, many artists have adopted digital photography for the particular advantages that it offers.

Indeed, measured in terms of quantity of pixels, the brag and bench mark for measuring the capacity of digital cameras, professional models are approaching the finesse of film. In terms of printing, the high definition available, together with the development of high quality printers, is making darkrooms obsolete. Regretfully for those of us enamoured with orangy darkness, peering into the bottom of the development basin for the sudden appearance of the image.

And adieu to getting rid of the very last speck of dust on the negative, the bane of printing! In our speed orientated epoch, having to wait for chemistry, trial by error, trashing imperfect prints are things of the past. (The critics of digital photgraphy will remark that the problem of dust has been transferred to SLR cameras, where each lens change carries the risk of dust particles settling on the CCD, leaving an identical trace on each photograph taken...)

Fundamentally, the entire process from picture to print being computer based gives the photographer control, autonomy and ease in her work.

Yet… if the purpose of digital photography is to simply replicate what has been done before on film, then we divest ourselves of a world of creative, conceptual, intellectual possibilities. The transfer of the darkroom onto the computer opens up a wide array of image processing possibilites via the use of Photoshop and similar applications.

What used to be done with difficulty and sleight of hand in the darkroom, via the direct manipulation of light, each error meaning starting over, can now be done with ease. Today's errors are banished by a simple "Control-Z". One shudders to think of the media manipulation tricks that the KGB darkroom goblins would have been able to pull if they had had Photoshop. Indeed, today, their successors do not hesitate to do the same...

Nonetheless, the final objective is a single photographic image, to be printed or projected. The computer as display device opens other doors...


What is novel is the originality of the computer as display engine, capable of composing pictures "on the fly", thus allowing the development of new narrative possibilities.

Programming, the encoding of a script, allows a picture to develop its own dynamic discourse. Malleable pixels let their poetry be expressed via an interactive relationship established with the observer. New horizons are opened up to visual perception. Instead of being a passive spectator "over the photographer's shoulder", the computer allows one to play an active, immersive role within the matter and meaning of the picture.

Interactive photographs serve to question the status of the picture itself. As far back as humanity has been a creative, cultural creature, she has decorated the walls surrounding her. This was true in Lascaux, and in the Sistine Chapel. Today, everyone, or almost everyone, hang pictures on their walls. Interactive pictures challenge the inert nature of the traditional recorded scene, whether a painting or a photograph. It goes beyond the linear nature of film in the sense that individual frames are strung together in a sequential order. Thus, allowing the viewer to engage in interactive dialogue with a work, that goes beyond passive critique or interpretation, signifies a fundamental break in relation to the traditional tenets of pictorial representation.

Interactive photography allows the observer to delve randomly - or in a more organised manner - into the fragmentary instants of sucessive photographic views. Time and Space are deconstructed, disordered, and reassembled in accordance with the probing of the observer. Each unique instant is in a state of racing recomposition within a continuum of simultaneity, where each instant is in collision with its peers.

The meaning of the picture is transformed by unexpected juxtapositions and permutations which destabilise the photographic reproduction of reality. The Absolute fraternizes with the Arbitrary: the initial, objective photographic recording becomes a zone in which the irrational artifices constructed within the fabric of the picture by interaction between programme and viewer allow the human spirit to find an echo for its cares.

Photography has always been a borderline case. Border between the real and recorded, via the optical link which operates between the subject photographed, and the (digital) emulsion. Border between objective and subjective, where the camera obscura takes in dispassionately what the painter’s hand and mind inevitably appropriate within the boundaries of that person’s psychology and technical ability. Or between making a reproduction of what is real, and rendering the mind’s eye.

But the most passionate of borders is the most elusive for human perception: freezing the "now", that ever disintegrating presence that is so wafer thin between expectation for the future and memory of the past. Photography breaks with previous forms of expression by its capacity to slice that “now” out of time and freeze it for always.

But one can also see in this quest for "now" a certain tyranny. Why this instant, and not an other? The same applies to space: though it contains infinite possibilities, at any particular moment it may only be occupied by a single, unique artifact. Or illuminated in a single, particular way.

Using interactive photography, multiple occupations of space and time can be set in motion, in an armature of simultaneity. The techniques that are put to play in Landscopes, using algorithmic routines to confront a succession of “nows” within a single picture, allow a greater understanding of the genus loci, and our relationship to it.

There are eleven pictures in the Landscopes series: a description of each can be reached via the linked vignettes on the left. The interactive pictures themselves cannot be viewed over the internet. However, low definition versions of two pictures - Ayguesvives and Jerusalem, Old City - can be downloaded from their respective pages.

If this work interests you, and you wish to view a CD-ROM containing the full series, kindly contact joetopia.