'Future Perfect:' Penelope Umbrico and Photography in the Digital Age

May 17, 2016

  

With the advent of Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, and other apps, it seems that everyone is a photographer – or are they? It seems that capturing special moments has lost its specialness, but New York-based photographer Penelope Umbrico would disagree.

For the past decade, Umbrico has been sifting through the millions of photographs available online, usually grouped by subject matter. She wants to know why we take and share photographs and what it says about us as humans.

Future Perfect, currently on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum, features more than 30 installations, including around 5,000 individual images.

"The idea of photography becoming democratized is a really interesting concept," says Umbrico. "We're actually more subject to the way we're told how to take photographs, what kind of photographs we can take and even how we're able to share them. We can't do anything we want we are still subject to the devices that are provided to us."

Milwaukee Art Museum photography curator Lisa Sutcliffe says Future Perfect challenges the idea of photography as a democratic medium. "We may think we're making an individual artistic statement but in fact there's a collective zeitgeist that is making us take these pictures in a certain way," she says.

Penelope Umbrico's installation is on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum until August 7th.