Uncertainties in the Algorithmic Image

  • Rosemary Lee IT-University of Copenhagen


The incorporation of algorithmic procedures into the automation of image production has been gradual, but has reached critical mass over the past century, especially with the advent of photography, the introduction of digital computers and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Due to the increasingly significant influence algorithmic processes have on visual media, there has been an expansion of the possibilities as to how images may behave, and a consequent struggle to define them. This algorithmic turnhighlights inner tensions within existing notions of the image, namely raising questions regarding the autonomy of machines, author- and viewer- ship, and the veracity of representations. In this sense, algorithmic images hover uncertainly between human and machine as producers and interpreters of visual information, between representational and non-representational, and between visible surface and the processes behind it. This paper gives an introduction to fundamental internal discrepancies which arise within algorithmically produced images, examined through a selection of relevant artistic examples. Focusing on the theme of uncertainty, this investigation considers how algorithmic images contain aspects which conflict with the certitude of computation, and how this contributes to a difficulty in defining images.
xCoAx 2019 - Special Issue