Photograph: Max Pinckers

Documenting Reality in the Digital Age

Max Pinckers’s photobook ‘Margins of Excess’ is a starting point to explore the possibility of documenting reality through photography in a digital world where the boundaries of both are becoming increasingly elusive. Some claim that in the digital era photographic images are mostly consumed as illusions; this paper is an attempt to understand whether, and eventually to what extent, photographs can also still inform.

A brief premise on the definitions of documentary and reality is followed by three chapters. An analysis of the semantics of ‘Margins of Excess’ – chapter one – will be instrumental to reflect on how a photographic document conveys information. The second chapter will explore how digital technology has affected the media, and how this has in turn impacted on photographic realism; Peter Osborne’s (2010) reflections and Pinckers’s media portrayals will ground the discussion. The last section will explore how readers approach photographs in the digital era. Findings from Leon Festinger (1957), Stephan Lewandoswky (2012), Roland Barthes (1977) and Peter Osborne (2010) will be the theoretical references.