Which Medium?

The question of the medium being used also raises the issue of the relationship between technology and image, between the production and semantics of images. Historically, nearly every field of scientific research has developed a specific visualisation practice based on the contemporary media technologies available to it. A great many phototechnical procedures were developed as a consequence of this. Landscape photography, for example, with its numerous references to landscape painting, has played an important role in both ecology itself and in its conceptual development. Since the beginning of the 20th century quantitative techniques have increasingly been developed and used for mapping and surveying landscapes. This includes “photogrammetry”, the precursor to satellite-based remote sensing systems.

Currently, photography is being joined by digital imaging; the latter has either replaced photography entirely or has generated in conjunction with it a variety of hybridisations. Media using technical equipment as well as electronic media play a key role in the visualisation of the specific forms of nature. They are not “neutral” mediators of external nature; rather, they are substantially involved in the construction of images. Technical apparatuses along with their visual capabilities write themselves directly into the process of image formation. What is decisive, though, is whether the visualisation occurs in the medium of painting, photography or digital imaging. All technical apparatuses are based on various technologies, which inscribe themselves onto and into the image and bring forth different representations of, say, landscape accordingly.