2.2 Story Two: First Steps – Video Structure Meaning

residents of Earth had received a notice that a photograph would be made on some particular date
at a Vega buttery colony and sent at the speed of light on that date toward Earth, it could have
no impact on an Earth resident for about 25.3 years. Now, it might be argued that knowing a Vega
buttery image was on its way might impact an Earth resident, but that impact would be only from
the initial notice that such an image would someday be on the way.
Our consideration of the movement, capture, and display of photons leads us to modeling photo-
cutionary acts and how we might think of them as resolving the past. During the pre-capture of
data stage, decisions are made about just where to aim the capture devise, what sort of time frame
would be appropriate for the capture, whether the capture should be artless or artful—here think
of NASA high-resolution imaging of shuttle parts to look for stress fractures vs. gauze lters to
smooth imperfections in a “romantic” portrait—and issues of lighting. At the capture stage the
mechanics of what sort of lens would be ideal (focal length, maximum aperture, linear distortions,
chromatic distortions, price, and time required) are combined with determining tradeos of ex-
pense, rigging, intrusion on the subject (one would likely not set up a high-resolution imaging sys-
tem that requires a ve-minute exposure to record a childs birthday party; nor would one propose
making ocial museum records of holdings with a cell phone camera.)
At the post-capture stage issues of changing brightness, tone curves, contrast, ltering, and
numerous other manipulations are weighed against issues of verisimilitude: legs made “perfect for
an advertising campaign by lengthening; eliminating distracting elements from a cover photo for a
national magazine; Photoshopping out a piece of lettuce in the smile of a faculty website portrait.
At the publication stage technical decisions about the quality of printing, color management,
storage space, and simple size of the displayed image are weighed against issues of utility, cost-to-
gain ratios (a 3 × 12 foot print of the Very Large Array might be the perfect image to enhance a
conference room, but the several hundred dollar cost of just mounting the print, instead of tacking
it to the wall, is not trivial.) Re-use of images raises issues of whether they ought to be displayed
in a dierent size or format than originally intended. We might ask if display of a digital version
of an antique photograph violates” original intentions. We might ask if a better” print serves
some purposes well, while casting a curtain between the image and what earlier viewers would
have experienced.
is line of reasoning yields a model of relationships. is model is a demonstration from
which to conduct discussions and elaborations. Source of photons may be taken as State 1; capture as
State 2; each post-production editing step as Stage 3a, 3b, 3c …; each display decision or instantiation
as Stage 4a, 4b, 4c, …; each access/retrieval decision as 5a, 5b, 5c, …; each re-use activity as 6a, 6b,
6c… We might add that agents at each stage might actively want to know the mechanical and / or
the human decision components of previous photocutionary acts. We might note that this wave of co-
herence through time is instantiated in what would look like individual documents, so we might want
to consider Andersons notion of document lineages (O'Connor, Anderson, and Kearns, 2008, p. 38.)
We describe this trail of the rules for recovery of the past as a “chain of custody”—familiar
from archival science and criminal investigations for assuring provenance and protection from
fraud. It is conceptually simple, though tracking the human decision making may not be so simple.
At every stage each photocutionary act has a mechanical and decisional component.
Source of Photons
Capture P
hoton Data
Revise Photon Data
Present Photon Data Present Photon Data
Human Mechanism and
Technical Mechanism
Human Mechanism and
Technical Mechanism
Human Mechanism and
Technical Mechanism
Human Mechanism and
Technical Mechanism
State 1
State 3
State 4a State 4b
State 2
Figure 2.1: Photons in, photons out: photographic chain of custody.