Digital amateur photography as a new communication medium (in the example of Moscow State Museum-Reserve Tsaritsyno)
Center for Fundamental Sociology IGITI State University - Higher School of Economics Moscow, Russia
Spreading of digital technologies substantially changed daily practices of ordinary people. In the photography sphere these changes are connected with wider independence of the photographer caused by the elimination of correlation between financial cost of the process and the amount of pictures done and by the appearance of new possibilities of presenting photographs. The main research question is whether spreading of digital technologies in the sphere of photography leads to the rise of a new mood of acting and interacting about photography.
Photography as a particular type of media has a definite structure that implies not only functional features of cameras and related staff but also the patterns of taking pictures and its? further storage and presenting. Media themselves, not the content they carry, are the focus of the study. A peculiar type of social interaction is under investigation, the one where cameras and other associated staff pretend to be actants enjoying equal rights with photographers in making up our world. As long as cameras act during the process of taking pictures but can not explicate its ?intentions? it is more legitimate to use the theory of social events that understands the notion ?event? as cognitive complex available for grasping by an observer because of the important premise about the existence of basic perception unity between an observer and any actor of an event. Different ways of combination of events constituting the process of taking pictures and presenting them are analyzed. The comparison between the field of analogue amateur photography studies and the results of the empirical research in the State Museum-Reserve Tsaritsyno indicates that taking pictures on digital cameras by amateur photographers becomes less oriented to be a commemorative practice of saving important moments of life but more oriented to be a new type of communicative practice based on the idea of urgent communication ? the special way to transmit instant messages to a particular audience. In this sense photography tends to turn into a new variant of communication medium that occupies its own place in the communication process of modern society.