On machine vision and photographic imagination


In this article we introduce the concept of implied optical perspective in deep learning computer vision systems. Taking the BBC’s experimental television programme “Made by Machine: When AI met the Archive” (2018) as a case study, we trace a conceptual and material link between the system used to automatically “watch” the television archive and a specific type of photographic practice. From a computational aesthetics perspective, we show how deep learning machine vision relies on photography, its technical regimes and epistemic advantages, and we propose a novel way to identify the latent camera through which the BBC archive was seen by machine.