Erik Kessels- Dealing with the Flood


Copyright Erik Kessels

Dealing with the flood is a range of student reflections on a short but thought provoking blog entry by Gareth Dent about a piece of work made by Erik Kessells.

Kessell produced an installation cal;ed Photography in Abundance  when he down loaded and printed all the images that were uploaded to flickr on a single day.

The work  highlights in a physical form the sheer scale of images being shared with the world through just one channel (flickr) in a single day. Dent describes this as a flood and poses a challenging but engaging question around how doe we deal with the flood?

To be frank, before I even thought about answering the question my mind set off thinking about the water analogy. I am sitting at a desk flanked by two filing cabinets in which hang thousands of negatives, the fruits of my photographic exploring over years, I have boxes of prints and dare not even think about the hard drives full of TIFFs and JPEGs.

I am thinking about a torrent poring out of flickr on a daily basis while sitting at the centre of my own pool of images. How many ponds, pools lakes, seas and indeed oceans are out there in the privacyy of peoples homes.

What is the narrative to these images, what story, however personal do they tell to the owners?  Many of these images will never be seen by others but they exist none the less. In fact for the fleeting moments that an image appears on flickr and is seen by who ever is looking, it is inevitable consigned to the depths of the groups it is filed in forever.

So whilst I can see that millions of people are making images and millions can see them, we all to some extent just accept and live with and amongst the never ending flow.

Perhaps the real question is what in the flow influences us? Also how do we read the flow. I need to ponder on this for some more and then return to this blog entry.

Having thought about this a little more I thought the idea of the flood or flow needed further exploring. I found a very interesting article by David Campbell a media commentator that challenges the use of the flood metaphor and sheds some light on this date.

Campbell suggest that while there is a dirth of images it is inappropriate to compare it to a flood or sTsunami. He suggests that these are natural phenomena over which we have no control. We do have a choice in the consumption of images on the internet. we have to log, look at the people we flow and make  conscious attempt top see this work. We can also filter and be quite desiring about what we see.

So what does this all mean in terms of context and narrative? Well i think it says something about then two way process of engaging with an image? It does emphasis the context in which the image is seen part of the process of decoding it, but it also highlights that the viewer also makes choices about when and how they see an image and quite probably what meaning they assign to the image. This present an challenge for being clear about a narrative, particularly in a single image. i hope I can explore this idea further and return to this thought as the course progresses


Campbell, D. (2013) Abundant Photography-The misleading metaphor of the image flood. Found at : (accessed April 2013)

Dent, G. (2013) Dealing with the Flood found at: (accessed April 2013)


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