In the third quarter of 2003, 285,000,000 individual auctions were transacted on eBay.* With few exceptions these transactions were supported by digital images created by amateurs to promote the sell. In 2006 it is reasonable to infer that more than a billion pictures were made for eBay sells and were examined in many instances multiple times. The vast majority of these images are confected for the purposes of the sell and will be erased. Disposable merchandising photographs produced and circulated en masse is nothing new as anyone who grew up in the era of Sears & Roebuck catalog hegemony knows. But, such an astounding volume and diversity of images produced, distributed and consumed by amateur photographers on a fresh as today basis across the globe is without precedent.
A scholarly literature replete with postmodern analysis is beginning to form around the phenomenon of this new space and its new photography. The traditional indexicality of the still print is shifting with web based photography and nowhere is this seen more vividly than on eBay. Regardless of which emerging Barthes or Sontag we select our new theoretical paradigm from – it is clear that our culture’s relationship with photography is being altered by eBay and other web based images which we encounter there.
This collection is a kind of sampler that gestures toward – as my postmodern friends might have it—a hermeneutics of the opening phases of new photography in the virtual social space we call eBay. Or as I’ve come to see it, this collection is a digital reliquary for an evanescent photography.