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Themesicon: navigation pathPhoto/Byteicon: navigation pathInstant Images
Instant Images: The Recording, Distribution and Consumption of Reality Predestined by Digital Photography [1]
Kathrin Peters


The German Photoindustrie-Verband e.V. (Photographic Trade Association) has every reason to be pleased: «Never before were so many cameras sold in Germany than in 2004.» In figures this represents 7 million digital and 1.4 million analog cameras, of which a total of about 120 million are in circulation on the so-called world market, not including cell phone and disposable, singleuse cameras. This expansion encourages conclusive statements such as «Consumers have rediscovered and intensified their pleasure in taking photographs.» [2]

These consumers cannot all be family men. Whereas in 1965 the group surrounding the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu identified the documentation of family rituals as the ritual confirmation of the institution of the family itself, emphasizing the social function of taking photographs, [3] in view of the current sales boom in the camera sector, the validity of this theory is arguable. For it is not a drop in the use of photographic technologies that is accompanying the dissolution of traditional family structures and bonds, rather it is apparently a rise in their use. This essay does not treat this increase as a mere consequence of


marketing, but rather as a sign of changing photographic gestures, therefore of changing community bonds beyond the family. This may sound very theoretical at first, and in fact it will first be necessary to single out a few photographic practices from within a jumbled social framework. If one considers both amateur photography as well as the field of the fine arts and its periphery, the specific practices and events consist on the one hand of an increase in the value of a snapshot aesthetics which makes construed or actual reference to familial and everyday experiences, and on the other hand an arrangement of photographic images in online databases for which the name of the artist or the photographer is not essential, as the images and the users form a community that is only constituted through its presence on the Web site. The emphasis on authenticity and individual experience and making images (publicly) accessible once more seems to have been made over to the notion of photographs as memory stores. Digital recording and distribution processes are connected with these practices without these practices solely being justified by the

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