At the beginning of part 4, we’re asked to “think of any photographs that are not used as a means of expression or communication,” and to blog about them. 

The photos that strike me are images taken by NASA or ESA that are essentially data gathering exercises, rather than images to communicate or express a meaning. The data is processed to a visual form to make it easier for humans to understand and this provides a context and scientific meaning. However, they have meaning beyond that  because we give them meaning, and we can still use them to communicate messages – about our place in the universe, the power of science, etc.

I used to study physics and astronomy. An image that was meaningful to me was one of the cosmic microwave background radiation from NASA data. Is it a photograph? Well, to my mind if a digital photo is a photograph then yes, this also qualifies as a photograph.

Nine Year Microwave Sky The detailed, all-sky picture of the infant universe created from nine years of WMAP data. The image reveals 13.77 billion year old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies. The signal from our galaxy was subtracted using the multi-frequency data. This image shows a temperature range of ± 200 microKelvin. Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team WMAP # 121238 Image Caption 9 year WMAP image of background cosmic radiation (2012)

Another set of images could perhaps be Google Earth, or images collected via satellite that record scientific data such as variations in gravity over the surface of the ocean that are processed as images. But being a bit paranoid about satellite imagery, I suppose I would read extra meaning into those images depending on how they are used by governments to wield or express power.

I’m thinking of getting a security camera. If I took a still image from the data that it collected at random, I don’t think it would necessarily be an image used as expression or communication, although it might express or communicate something about me and there would be a reason for me to pick a certain image or time.

Image of a black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy.1024px-Black_hole_-_Messier_87_crop_max_res.jpg

Event Horizon Telescope [CC BY 4.0 (