The Urban Shots of Strangers

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This paper looks at a themed page on Facebook with the intention of highlighting the workings of social media sites and the photographs posted there from the point of view of artistic speculation. In the presented case, the photographs posted on a daily basis on the page comprise authentic shots of buildings that are connected in meaningful ways with the urban experience of the city residents. The circulating photos, due to the combination of networked communication practices with everyday experiences, facilitate localized modes for the aesthetic understanding of the urban environment, as part of a daily, continuous online interaction exchanged among strangers. The understanding by the author of this paper is that the moment these photos turn into visual posts, an inflow of aesthetic, historic, and technical remarks is attached to them so that they acquire a new status. The amalgamation of informal and technical narratives with the plain urban views depicted in the photos forms a new layer, which supersedes the commonality of the images. Thus, they become more resonant or meaningful by their participation on a social network site than the real-life buildings they portray. These workings, despite their provisional and unstable processes, or maybe exactly because of them, substantiate a case for a new species of imagery, which, while rooted in the real world, suffuses its representational content online with subjective, autobiographical, or inconsequential narratives. These posts, still being images, float freely among other visual entities and textual fragments, in order to shape new meaningful findings, as a result of educated guesses, speculative association, and real-life experience.