We live in what could be described as a “curated” world, surrounded by experts that are all the time explaining us complex things in a simple way. If you watch television this comes up very often, sometimes as a manifestation of pop culture. I was watching the BBC today and they were showing the forensic reconstruction of some person that was a famous prisoner in Scotland centuries ago. They were showing some interesting CGI but there was no discussion of how the technology works or what is used for. We only see the end results as some sort of novelty, something to capture our attention for a few seconds. The world is just too complex for us to understand anything but our own area of interest or expertise, if we have any, but if we were to see all the information, all the knowledge, instead of this curated view, we would end up with a huge headache or would quickly lose our minds. Perhaps the curated view of the world is necessary to preserve our own existence, but not being aware that our interaction with most everybody else is somewhat abridged could also have dangerous consequences. Without this awareness we would soon believe that we are qualified to pass judgement on matters that we have no knowledge of, and when this becomes endemic we could have the wholesale rejection of expertise.
I wanted to develop a series of photographs to illustrate the concept of the knowledge that lies beneath the surface of what we perceive. This knowledge, which I call the “details” for the purpose of this exercise, is something that is there but we cannot perceive or comprehend. The first idea that came to my mind when trying to illustrate this point was to take a series of images of high-resolution landscapes and then look at the images later in my computer, at 100% magnification and look for things that I have not noted when I first took the image, be it objects or patterns. These details were supposed to be images on a standalone basis, but I also thought about mixing the cropped images with their original sources, in random order, and allow the viewer to try to make sense of where the cropped images were coming from. This was intended as a way of illustrating the frustration that we often feel when there is something beyond our understanding.
I did some preliminary testing for these ideas, some of the preliminary images are shown below (including a mix of full images and crops):