Rhea Myers

Snapshot Generativity

“Frieze” ran an article on “Lomography” some time ago, concluding that
however designerish “Lomo” photographers may feel they’re being they
are still producing Lomo-aesthetic images (see
http://www.lomography.org for why). But this is true of any
fixed-focus or special-effect camera, from the Box Brownie through
1950s corrective-lens-and-filter cameras, “Polaroids”, 110s,
lenticular print cameras, fixed-lens digital cameras and Lomo’s
multi-lens or coloured-flash cameras. Lomo just try to make it a

There’s a name for the self-similar photography of the tourist and the
partygoer: The Snapshot Aesthetic. Partly due to the
would-be-photographer trying to realise pre-existent image models,
partly because of the constraints of the media, things always seem to
come out a certain way in snapshots.

The Snapshot Aesthetic casts its shadows from the platonic realm into
the real world like a brand or a religion, actualised by anyone
without an SLR. It is therefore generative, an engine with input,
output and an aesthetic transformation between the two. Describing The
Snapshot Aesthetic in this way is not an after-the-fact switch of
description and prescription - snapshots are still being taken and are
most likely becoming more like snapshots as time goes on.

This may seem a strangely destructive generativity, one that limits
the space of images rather than extending it. But this is true of any
aesthetic - an aesthetic is a set of constraints on production. The
imposition of constraints limits, but it also directs and
focusses. Infinite choice would take infinite time and have infinitely
dissipate meaning so constraining the choice space is good. Art
without constraints is not possible, but art without knowledge of its
constraints is kitsch.