“How we make things dictates not only how we work
but what we buy, how we think, and the way we live.”
– James P. Womack (Womack, Jones and Roos, 1990)
Industrialisation is the act of a country and society converting itself from what would be an agricultural community, to a manufacturing society, transforming from manual labor and replacing it with factories masses of mechanized machines to mass produce crafts and goods. The act of industrialisation started in 1750. It was not a sudden transformation happening in one year, but a gradual process, and evolution that is considered to still be taking please at this present time. There was the revolution of steam, water and wind power systems, before a revolution into transportation, auto mobiles and railways, and then progressing to the 19th century, we had electrical powered factory systems, before we progress to the late 20th century, in which computer technology was created. The Great Exhibition of 1851 marked the peak of British economic dominance. Taking place in Crystal Palace, a huge range of British goods were displayed for both foreign and domestic visitors. Being the first exhibition of manufactured goods,it was hugely influential in the development of society including art and design education. The results led to the pre-cursor of the V & A museum; The Museum of Ornamental Art.
Post industrialisation is meant to define a country or society that has passed through, or dodged completely, the domination and labour of a manufacturing based economy, and instead receives the outcomes of the manufacturing, concentrating on more of a society based structure and economy, concentrating on innovation, finance and services. Overall this is deemed as an “Information society”, in which creation and distribution and manipulation of information is a crucial political and cultural activity, and is deemed as the succession of an Industrial society. Although we are now considered to have left the industrialisation era, surely it is still persisting? We have managed to evolve from film photography to digital photography, which is forever developing and increasing in quality as new cameras come out every year. With this taking place, many photographers and artists have reverted back to using the old methods as they feel the work created is more of a perfection and more heartfelt, getting what they want just how they want it. Carl Honore, the author of “In Praise of Slow”, said “ The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity.” (Honoré, 2004) I think this is a very wise, important statement, and it’s true; It’s better to get something just right, just how you want it instead of just using an auto focus feature, and this is shown through the work that is produced.
Some photographers use old methods and try to show the world without industrialisation, or the negative effect it has caused. Olaf Otto Becker has worked on one project on the Arctic landscape for seven years, focusing on the beautiful glaciers but showing us his heartfelt concept of how global warming is destroying them, is we the cracks a melted holes that signify their decay and meltdown, Becker hits the nail on the head with his statement of his images and global warming “My images are beautiful because the landscapes are beautiful. But what you see in my images will cause very ugly images of suffering somewhere else in the world”(Becker, Badger and Schaden, 2007). Another photographer, Sebastiao Selgado has created a couple of projects that attack industrialisation. One being his beautiful GENESIS project that has one image of an iceberg that looks like a medieval castle. He said his aim was to return to the very beginning of earth, with it’s elements of fire, air and water, giving birth to life. However, his methods of developing the images was through platinum printing, using very toxic chemicals, something that contradicts his concept greatly. There’s also photographer Chris Jordan and his project “intolerable beauty” with one of the images showing a dead, rotting albatross, with all the plastic manufactured rubbish from lighters to bottle caps inside its body. These images show just how bad our littering has polluted the world, with the birds swallowing the plastic items in the vastly polluted pacific, thinking it’s food, and eventually leading to their deaths.
Technology is forever evolving, with new inventions, and easier to use equipments, but with less skill needed for these new items. These days, everyone is a photographer, with great resolution and sensors inside their phones, a click of a button and they’ve got their image. There’s instagram, giving them the chance to use filters such as cross process, which takes time to create digitally, let alone the effort put into film photography for such an effect. There’s even the new Rambus system being created, which doesn’t need a sensor or a lens to create an image, just a computer chip and an algorithm. It is indeed great that art is produced, create and available to create by the masses, but it does indeed put photography as a career in jeopardy. Photographers abilities and skills would be underestimated and even manufacturers will lose out on money, if we reach such and era where DSLRs and lenses are not needed. I would say the indeed, we are still in the industrialisation/ post-industrialisation era, and we will be for a very long time, as everything is forever evolving. Overall, industrialisation has been both and artists best friend, and its worst enemy, being influential to the artist movement, but progressing at such a rate, artists could become that of a rarity.