While ignoring the ever-present argument that photography is in crisis, it is still important to address the function and definition of the medium and to consider photography as a unified idea. Rather than discussing the process of art, Vierkant, Antin, Gadonneix, and the collaborative works of Scheeren and Gremmen approach process (or work) as the work. These superdutch works revel in their simplicity and richness of reference by mirroring frenetic thought patterns evocative of an active message board. In order for these works to function, there must be a shared space, context, or point of reference.
In this context, our shared space and point of reference is the Internet. It is our hive mind, our collective understanding, our polder1. It allows us to reclaim images from the ether and isolate, rather than elevate, images and distill these stimuli into some sort of discourse that is at once separate, yet always on the precipice of falling back into the sea should we no longer agree on their purpose. It is in this action that we can establish a working definition, one that serves to illuminate our purpose rather than attempting to define the nature of the entire medium. We are reclaiming land from the sea, not attempting to define terra firma.
The function of art qua process when applied to meta-photographic works is to question the "aura" of the work while challenging the structure of media and allowing process to usurp product. By presenting examinations of process as the final product, these artists are engaging in a modernist critique of technological processes as medium rather than approaching the implications of the processes of medium. Works from these artists range from the reification of histograms to the metaphor of endless possibility that rests within chroma key green and questions the nature of output with the clarity and force of Walter Benjamin (v2.0). Through these approaches, we are able to more clearly define our new shores, and appreciate the process forming it.
1 Traditionally, polders are tracts of land that lie below sea level and are reclaimed by various hydrosculptive means for various agricultural and settlement uses. They are frequently found in the Netherlands where their historical importance and need for shared responsibility and consensus to maintain a polder is (potentially) the basis of the consensus policy in Dutch economics, appropriately named the polder model.
Jordan Tate is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Cincinnati. Tate, a Fulbright Fellow (2008-2009), has a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Indiana University. Tate is the author of the recently published "The Contemporary Dictionary of Sexual Euphemisms" from St. Martins Press (2007); his work is currently held in collections nationwide, including Rhizome at the New Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Tate is the founding editor of the contemporary art blog http://ilikethisart.net.