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That’s the innovation that’ll surprise us-and it won’t restrict its impact to the territory of the fine-art photograph, no matter how broadly defined.Most assessments of the potential of digital photography restrict themselves to some variant of traditional media (the digital image output as an Iris ink-jet print on handmade Arches paper, for example) or to the confines of the computer monitor.

Yet of all the components of the computer, the VDT has been least subject to radical invention. Yes, it’s gone from monochrome to color, gotten smaller (for laptops and palm-sized PCs) and, for desktops, bigger and flatter. True, with an expensive projector you can throw a slightly degraded version of whatever’s on that screen up on the wall in a darkened room. Fact is, though, that for the past two decades, attending to anything displayed on a computer’s monitor has approximated looking at a small-to-mid-sized television set.

I expect that to change, and soon. Look for:

Paint-on VDT, some emulsionbased pixellated liquid that can be applied to any surface in any pattern and activated by attachment to a CPU;

VDT-by-the-yard, some cloth-like material that can be cut to any pattern and activated similarly, enabling you, for instance, to wear a shirt on which a programmed sequence of your family-album images is displayed;

Digitally produced holographic projection, 3-D photography, and/or some photographically generated version of virtual reality.

Prepare yourself, that is, for a wider variety of photographic images not attached to objects-or attached to unfamiliar objects. They’re just around the corner, and we can look forward to watching paradigm-shift in action as we and our culture come to terms with them.

So sit back and think well beyond photographic scrapbooks. Think about programming imagery for your eveningwear and bedroom walls, as photography detaches itself from the objects we’ve always associated it with and enters the disembodied realm of the digital.

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