Photography 5.1 - Manifesto Version 5.1.0

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In short, Photography 5.1 requires all that is depicted in a photograph be made from scratch within the digital realm.

(Above) A selection of virtual photography equipment

Photography 5.1 supposes that photography has been through 5 distinct chapters since the invention of the camera obscura. They begin with the early attempts and processes of capturing an image (1.X) followed by the invention of film (2.X) and later, colour photography (3.X). It is only once digital photography emerges (4.X) that the boundary between the digital realm and the physical begin to blur. 


Around the same time as the invention of digital photography, early Computer Generated Images (CGI) were being created—images that are far from what we recognise as CGI today; but, these primitive images would eventually bring forth a new type of photograph, one not of nor taken in the physical world but in and of the virtual. This new chapter, that of “Virtual Photography” (5.0) is, however, still reliant on scans and elements captured in the physical world, and is thus still tethered to it.


It is only with Photography 5.1 that we untether from the physical world entirely, allowing the artist to create from scratch all which is depicted in a photograph. With this change we advance fractionally toward the next technological horizon, for with the link between photography and the physical world severed, a yet undiscovered realm can be glimpsed.



Below are the criteria for creating work that adheres to the Photography 5.1 manifesto. If the virtual work does not satisfy each of the points outlined, the work pertains to Photography 5.0 or earlier:


  1. Every part of the image should be created from scratch inside the digital realm, no photos, scans of any type should be imported into the digital realm

  2. The Turing test attempts to determine whether a machine’s behavioural intelligence is indistinguishable from that of a human. Here, the question is, “Can a virtual photograph be indistinguishable from a real photograph?

    1. It is possible to use obvious CGI-looking elements as a misdirection tool

  3. The fabricated image should be a close representation of our physical reality where every element can be scrutinised. As such there should be no use of depth of field or focus

    1. Motion blur is up for discussion

  4. The images or videos should be as close to how the virtual world could be experienced, therefore excessive post-production of the image should be avoided


The hope is that Photography 5.0 and 5.1 will allow artists working with CGI to break away from the prescribed usage of computer graphics and by turning a mirror on the medium, be recognised in their own right as Visual artists.




Note: It is likely that many works created will date, and what was convincing once may not be forever. However this in itself may be an important record of how experiences are relative to our surroundings, and may in future be what dictate a new version of reality…

(Above) Works Pastel White has produced which adhere to the Photography 5.1 Manifesto.

Please download the manifesto as a .pdf for reference.

Note to Artists; 

This document is updated periodically and the version number at the top of the page indicates the version, all works that adhere to Photography 5.1 can use the name, but it can also be useful to indicate the exact version of the manifesto that is being adhered in your work’s description.