Jared McCormick (Harvard), “It’s All in the Blues: Watermarks, Recirculation, and Tracking”

mccormick Level 4 FINAL

[Accentuated blue channel to make watermark “visible” (to us).]

This presentation emerges from a larger Digital Humanities interface, A View from the View, which explores views of place, landscape, and tourism through postcards of the Middle East. Given this genre of tourism photography, and how postcards once circulated, I hope this digital platform allows scans of these materials to re-circulate today.

However, one hidden component is added to the scan of each image: an invisible watermark, unique to each photograph.  These are embedded in order to later aggregate where/when these images re-emerge across our digital landscapes. Thus, using a tracking device – imperceptible to the human eye, but “visible” to computer vision – hundreds of “barcodes” render the item unique, trackable, and seeable in new ways. I hope to subvert DRM (Digital Rights Management) to explore how well this “leash” works in tracking just as DRM also throws into question the photographic reproductions online, which are now new “documents” overlaid with hues of blue.