Noriko Furunishi’s work begins with a classic 4 x 5 camera and traditional analog negatives, but then morphs via Adobe Photoshop into photographs that are described shorthand as “digital.” This is the first time the MIA has featured digital-based work, a first not to brag about but an important move nonetheless as we develop a contemporary program. Furthermore, as an encyclopedic museum with audiences who are not as familiar with contemporary art as museums specializing only in modern and contemporary, one feels an obligation to present information on process. On the other hand, as someone who has worked across media my whole life, the question that keeps popping in my head is, why should we care whether Furunishi or other photographers use a digital process?
The narrative of technology that dominates the history of photography has come more and more to the surface with digital technology. I have some hunches why, but would love to hear some other viewpoints out there. My hope is that we can lay our cards on the table, purge our deepest technological secrets, and move on.