master-algorithmic-networked-photography-1, Simone C Niquille

Master in Algorithmic and Networked Photography 

How can we creatively and critically engage with the ongoing digital and online transformations of photography? The MA in Algorithmic and Networked Photography redefines the role of the photographic and examines CGI, AI generated images, screenshots and in-game photography.

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The photographic image has been radically transformed by its recent digital and networked developments. The impact and relevance of photography today lies not only in its representational layer, but beyond the visual surface of the image. Its invisible algorithmic and networked properties turned traditional photography into an assemblage of intertwined apparatuses, agents and media. Contemporary forms of digital images capture, circulation and consumption have been redefining the role of the photographic as an expanded and exciting field of visual culture in constant mutation. From AI generated images and computer-generated imagery to screenshotting, from CGI to Photoshop, from VR to in-game photography, practices of image-making and modes of experiencing visual art have created a vast and rich territory, explored by contemporary artists, photographers, curators, researchers, technologists and designers.

The Master in Algorithmic and Networked Photography offers an uncompromising investigation into the world of chronically digital images and terminally online visual culture. Through a series of lectures and workshops from some of the most relevant and inspiring actors in the field, this one-year master programme combines a sharply curated scholarly foundation with an intense practical education. Creative, conceptual and critical, the programme provides you with theoretical and practical knowledge of post-photography, AI images, networked images, machine vision and synthetic imaging. It invites participants to reflect upon the social, political and economic implications of different technological imaging systems. Simultaneously, the programme encourages you to experiment and create with hardware and software, as well as appropriating and misusing media platforms through artistic and alternative forms of image-making.

Elisava’s masters provide specialised and multidisciplinary advanced training that will contribute to improve your professional profile. Find the most suitable design master for you.

Who is this master aimed at?

The programme welcomes you from all over the world and aims at fostering an international community of artists, designers, photographers, curators and researchers working within the growing field of digital images. You’ll have access to a global network of outstanding practitioners and thinkers who are involved in the realm of algorithmic and networked visual cultures and actively shape the contemporary image discourse and its practices. The master’s programme strives to develop individuals with a blend of conceptual and technical expertise, equipping them to pursue professional careers in the art and culture sector. The aim of the programme is to cultivate graduates who not only contribute to the cultural landscape but also shape its future.

Access and Admission Requirements: Art, photography and design graduates. Professionals with experience in the field of media art, photography and film, and interested in contemporary digital and internet culture and art. If you have doubts about whether you would be a good fit for this programme, please submit your request for a case-by-case evaluation.

MA in Algorithmic and Networked Photography programme

1 Term 1: September – December

1.1 Post-Photography Theory

In this module, you’ll become familiar with discourses of digital manipulation and the crisis of the real that challenge concepts of indexicality in photography. The module follows the digital turn in photography, questioning the role of representation and the implications of image appropriation and manipulation, photorealistic CGI and computational photography.

1.2 Post-Photography Practice

This module provides technical and artistic skills in image manipulation software, as well as introductory workshops on CGI, photogrammetry, 3D scanning and 3D modelling. The module will also introduce scripting and creative coding for videogame modding, as well as different practices of documenting and performing in internet and game spaces.

2 Term 2: January – March

2.1 Networked Images Theory

The module explores concepts of global image circulation over the network. It focuses on the political, social and economic role of online images and the materiality and infrastructure of the internet. It invites you to reflect upon the entanglements of an economy of attention, surveillance practices and shaping identities on platforms of media exchange, as well as finding possible alternative networks and distribution systems.

2.2 Networked Images Practice

In this practical module, you are invited to research and reflect upon online visual culture, appropriating and curating networked images, screenshotting and collecting pictures through web scraping techniques. Through a series of workshops, participants will experiment with reclaiming the browser, both through coding and conceptual approaches, as a space for artistic intervention that can be subverted, extended and reappropriated.

3 Term 3: April – June

3.1 From Machine Vision to Synthetic Imaging Theory

Through a series of lectures, talks and discussions, the module will explore the recent emergence of machine learning and its impact on collecting, analysing and creating images. You will learn about the process behind the creation of large datasets, the global economy and human labour associated with annotation, the politics and biases embedded in the training and the resulting analytical and predictive properties of AI generated images and AI imaging systems.

3.2 From Machine Vision to Synthetic Imaging Practice

In this module, you will explore the inner workings of machine learning systems, learning how to work with existing and custom data sets, as well as training machine vision models. Through creative coding, artistic approaches and existing commercial softwares and platforms, participants will engage with object detection and facial recognition applications, as well as text-to-image generative systems and AI prompting techniques.

4 Final projects

You will develop your own projects throughout the school year, with two presentation and feedback sessions at the end of Term I and Term II. At the end of Term III, you will present their final projects. Final projects can be experimental and artistic works in the field of algorithmic and networked visual art and culture, developed following the ideas and techniques learned throughout the programme. You are mentored by the Master directors, and they will support you through regular meetings and individual consultations.

*The programme is organised into 3 terms and 7 modules, offered in a low-residency mode which runs for 40 weeks over 10 months between September and June. The programme is structured through a schedule that alternates in-person/remote learning hybrid schedule. 3 one-month in-person residencies in Barcelona will take place throughout the course year: late September – October, January – February and May – June. Specific dates to be announced.

Transversal practice: Throughout the master, short seminars will take place twice a month, allowing to meet and discuss current progress, sharing ideas, questions, readings and project prototypes.

Profile Pic, Marco de Mutiis. Photo Credit: Akihiko Taniguchi

How we do it

The MA in Algorithmic and Networked Photography combines theory and practice, encouraging to cultivate a dynamic fusion of critical thinking and experimental creation. At the heart of this approach is the belief that knowledge production is enriched when reflection and production, contemplation and action, are intertwined. The curriculum revolves around a continuous loop of thinking and making, punctuated by lectures, hands-on workshops and seminars to share ideas, discussions and prototypes. The programme also includes different modes of collaborative practice by offering an elective fieldtrip encouraging knowledge sharing and community building within the students.

An inclination towards experimentation and creative ways of employing imaging technologies and AI images is what sets our approach apart. You will be encouraged to wield tools not merely for the sake of technical prowess but as instruments of artistic expression and subversion. Finally, the Master sees photography as its point of departure, offering an expanded understanding of the medium. Photography is an approach and a way of seeing: it encompasses documentation, performance, intervening and shaping reality, creating and disrupting economies, building relations across the subjects of the image, opening up the apparatus and critically thinking about digital images production, representation and circulation. We emphasize that imaging is a social and political act, carried out not only by humans but also non-human actors with their unique properties, visions, and agendas. Our students delve deep into the complexities of these acts, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the visual medium.

We go beyond photography

The experience

We propose four potential experiences for the students beyond the regular teaching hours:

  • Image Hackathon*: A two days experience for students and guest artists to create prototypes around a theme connected to algorithmic and networked images.
  • Screen Walks: Connecting students to the Screen Walks programme and its artists, curators and researchers.
  • Transmediale*: A fieldtrip to the media art festival in Berlin.
  • Weekend retreat in a rural house*: A community building and work retreat, in the outskirts of Barcelona. The hackathon could happen within the weekend retreat.

*Not included in the registration fees.

Do you want to know more about the Masters’ School?

Each academic year, students with very diverse professional and cultural profiles of more than 80 nationalities from all over the world attend their master’s or postgraduate training at Elisava. We want to promote connections and networks among students beyond the context of each master’s degree to promote the exchange of knowledge through very diverse projects: we organize interdisciplinary workshops and conferences; transdisciplinary projects with students from several master’s degrees; collaborations with companies, institutions and NGOs…

Interdisciplinary workshops Collaborations with companies, institutions and NGOs Elisava Masters’ Talks and lectures Elisava Alumni
Masters’ scholarships

Do you want to study the MA in Algorithmic and Networked Photography at Elisava? In this section you will be able to check all the information on the annual call for scholarships, which recognize, reward and disseminate the talent and excellence of future master’s students.

Elisava Masters’ Scholarships