Much bandwidth has been consumed on digital versus analog, pixels versus paper. (“Much ink has been spilt” will hopefully stick around a long time as an English idiom.) My day job is as a computer-science instructor, and many of my colleagues are definitely in the “digital is better” realm, although then again not all of them would call themselves serious photographers.

I wonder if “pixellism” is a real word? A lot of “isms” have inherent the notion of “nothing but” such as “X is nothing but Y”, or perhaps here: “The photographic image is nothing but its pixel values.” The statement is rarely made so baldly but is normally strongly implied, that what matters most about an image (including, or perhaps especially, its market value) are the data values it represents or the number of “likes” obtained on social media. To be fair, most of those with such a perspective do value what digital makes possible for anyone trying to create an image.

Yet we ourselves are not digital abstractions. We are beings in a world (pace Heidegger), in the midst of an overwhelming complex web of objects and meaningfulness. Photographs are part of that complex web, and sometimes the physical print itself can help to explore the space of meanings itself, and then onward to open up new possibilities, new meanings, new windows. For example, when we meet every month or so for our “call and response” we always bring along and exchange physical prints. When we sequence a Zine we always start with a long session using smaller prints on the largest table we can find, physically moving them around.  Sometimes images “shine” or “feel right” in a particular place, and sometimes they definitely do not fit. (Note I use the noun “place” and not “location”.) After working with InDesign, we bring to a meeting a sample printed at Magcloud in order to hold the object and determine if the physical sequence is flowing in its bound form. There is always an opportunity for allowing a felt sense to help us – individually and as a group – find form for the lyric of the images we make.

Images are far more than their data. I reject pixellism.