The rare, the obvious, and the unbelievable of poor images

The man working at his computer is a man who can imagine, create, generate something without the need of physical effort.

In using computers and the internet, people tend to developed their own space in the net, by the use of numbers, letters, and images.

This interactive world gives the opportunity and the tools to be whoever you want and develop your own identity in the format you mostly prefer.

If perceived within the net, ideas, words, and images can assume the form of a pixelated digital dream. In other words, they can be customized, trimmed, taken out of context, in order to make them more similar to how we want them to look.


By examining images within a wider context, it is important to state that poor images, in spite of the brilliance and versatility of high-resolution images, are considered a resourceful medium in spreading news within the mainstream media and cinema environments.

As the filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl states, in an article published on the website E-Flux, in defence of the poor image:


‘In one of Woody Allen’s films [Deconstructing Harry, 1997] the main character is out of focus. It’s not a technical problem but some sort of disease that has befallen him: his image is consistently blurred. Since Allen’s character is an actor, this becomes a major problem: he is unable to find work. His lack of definition turns into a material problem. Focus is identified as a class position, a position of ease and privilege, while being out of focus lowers one’s value as an image.’ (n.d.)

allen jail.jpg
Scene depicting Woody Allen in Deconstructing Harry (1997)





This means that the use of poor images within the films helps making them more affordable, if taking in consideration the circulation of films through DVDs, broadcast television, or online.

Moreover, poor images are an important tool in revealing ‘the conditions of their [images] marginalization, the constellation of social forces leading to their online circulation as poor images. (Steyerl, n.d.)


However, it needs to be observed that the high-resolution image seems to be more adaptable, related to the growth of new technologies, and more effective when divulging a message.

Obviously, in terms of aesthetic, rich images can look better that poor ones.


Images, though, cannot be considered only through the way the look, but also in terms of their pliability. Poor images, in fact, can be easily compressed and travel quickly.


In an age of file-sharing, poor images can reveal themselves as a medium of global information, easily accessible for everyone.

Example of poor quality film, English Heretic tumblr blog

As Steyerl (n.d.) also claims, ‘Poor images show the rare, the obvious, and the unbelievable.’



Steyerl, H. (n.d.). In Defense of the Poor Image | e-flux. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2016].


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