Online Exhibition of User-generated photographs


Proposal — Dissertation

The Studio Practice component of this project will advance the wider distribution of images, particularly user-generated images, beyond traditional publishing and gallery models. What impact will new distribution channels like this have on galleries, photographers, photojournalists, publishers and stock libraries? On community opinions?

What impact do photographic images of historical events have on the community? Arguably, Mathew Brady’s 1836 image Federal Dead on the Field of Battle of First Day, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Nick Ut's 1972 image of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing her napalmed village, and images taken by US Army MPs at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have changed history by informing public opinion and pressuring authorities to modify their approach.

Traditional institutions are already changing or falling by the wayside under the influence of the internet. Stock libraries are going online and inviting a broader range of photographers to offer their images for sale. New providers like Citizen Image ( are appearing, “focused on gathering, distributing and selling this new wave of great images from citizen photographers”. Traditional print journals like the Bulletin are closing citing the pressure of online competition. Electronic news organisations like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation have embraced the internet as a third network (after radio and television), and now invite viewers to contribute images to the websites, which are then used in news stories in the other media as well as online. Certainly the internet provides expanding opportunities to distribute images quickly and more effectively, changing or even bypassing traditional gatekeepers like publishers and government censors.

The Dissertation, in the form of an illustrated essay on paper and online, will describe the technical and organisational mechanisms for dissemination of images historically and currently, and how the internet, digital imaging devices and social networking are changing traditional and contemporary channels through which images are “consumed”.

It will analyse the processes by which images have been, are, and will be disseminated; the increased opportunities for the widespread dissemination of user-generated images; and the mechanisms by which images influence public opinion. Particular regard will be had to the potential user-generated geotagged images have to influencing opinion: on political events and environmental issues, for example, by allowing viewers to navigate through online environments representing an event or location.