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Jack Latham's Talk on his Published Works

Documentary photographer, Jack Latham gave a guest lecture discussing the content featured within his photobooks, A Pink Flamingo (2015), Sugar Paper Theories (2016), Parliament of Owls (2019) and his latest work Latent Bloom (2020). Whilst still studying in Newport, he used a bursary fund given by the university to travel to America and revisit the historic ‘Oregon trail’, a historic fur trader route used to reach further west. By documenting this route, the images became part of Jack’s first self-published project, A Pink Flamingo. Jack remarks on some of the feedback on the work given by staff and his peers at Newport and highlights one of the technicians telling him to ‘never leave university with a finished project’. A statement that gives me reassurance with own project during my final year at university.

His next book, published by Here Press in 2016, Jack wrote a proposal to the charity IdeasTap to reinvestigate a double homicide that had taken place in Iceland, where six people wrongly admitted to the crime. Jack received $1,500 funding from the charity to pursuit the project where he would go on to photograph the locations surrounding the murders, case files, witnesses, lawyers and gained access to the forensic photographs. The name of this project became, Sugar Paper Theories, after an Icelandic conspiracy theorist notes on the events of the case were wrote on sugar paper.

The idea of conspiracy theories continued into his next published project, Parliament of Owls. Returning to work in the United States, Jack aimed to explore the theory put forward by Alex Jones about Bohemian Grove. A location that is used as a club for the rich and powerful, Jones’ theory claimed that children were being sacrifice there by the elite. The purpose of this project was to explore how conspiracy theorists respond to the wealthy become private about events and areas, leaving only a vacuum of context that theorists would project onto.

In his most recent work, Jack demonstrated his interest in algorithms and how machine learning works, by teaching a neural network what a flower looks like by feeding it thousands of images of a flower. Then to have to network create a flower and watched it figure out what the user wants based on what it has been taught. The project aimed to explore and how algorithms respond to an input and demonstrate how algorithms are being manipulated to show users certain content based on what is fed into it. Creating a bubble of knowledge where users online will only be given content and news that contains only things they agree with, creating this bubble where new ideas or different opinions cannot penetrate. Titled, Latent Bloom works a flip book showing each various images of the neural network trying to create the flower and also has an accompanying video.

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