Friday, April 22, 2005

The Rain's Small Hands*

To you, the brave and recently interviewed: I think your photos, together, are something they are not individually, although this is not what you like best about them and probably should not be. Thanks to:

Jan1ce
Homemade
Squirmelia
froupster
ANNA:poet
Detachable
bitpuddle
Katcha

If I say that it is humbling to speak to so many people, in such depth, in so short a time, what I mean is this: I always feel how far my questions come from encompassing You (they don't even complete a lap). Even so, the conversations are rich and engaging and fully-fledged, born along by your generosity, and this is another compliment to the complex and artful lives you've all built. Thank you. I hope that my work measures up to yours.

*cummings image of the rain's small hands is the image of humility I'm trying to describe.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Praise for a writer not lacking in praise

Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture is the best thing I've read in a long time (the kind of book that makes me want to move to Palo Alto and apprentice myself to him, or pledge fealty). But I mention it here becaues I think it is deeply relevant to any discussion of blogs, photography, photo-sharing, "day to day data", and etc. Btw, it's free for download at the link above.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blogs: the déclassé version of...everything

I think this [Raiders of the Lost ArtBase] is an interesting project, maybe most of all because you can hear the insinuation that a curatorial project which appropriates blogs is thrilling because it is déclassé ("Unflattering as the analogy may be to many curators of fine art..." ).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pub on the Park

Thanks to katenadine for being the subject of my first field recording, here. One thing we talked about, and which has come up with a number of other photographers and/or bloggers and/or flickr members, and which I think is one of the more interesting effects of our newly photo-fast culture, is this: the way that membership in flickr, or fotolog or etc. acts upon a person to influence the kinds of photos one takes, and maybe more interestingly, the way one looks out for photos—finds or seeks out or senses them. This is probably obvious. Memes and aesthetic standards and all that. What's interesting about it to me is the pace and the nimble sociality of these influences. Nimble what? Here:

Pace: I think concepts like trends, memes or styles each have their own sense of time. Aren't they each predicated on certain periods of activity, response, dissemination, stasis? Don't they each travel at their own pace? Maybe a meme is quicker to transmit and more quickly forgotten than a style; maybe a trend is slower than a meme but faster than a style. It doesn't really matter. What's important is this sense of timing and how it works. I think the timing inherent in trends and etc. is not a spectrum which extends infinitely in both directions, from glacial or epochal on one end to atomic on the other. At some point, doesn't the scale break and don't we get a new phenomena, a new concept? It's clear that ideas travel quickly around flickr, but I'm loathe to call them memes or trends or styles because I think they work differently than those concepts. I think ideas in flickr (for instance) travel through groups and tags and comments in a way that forces us to re-think how people influence other people, how membership in online photographic communities works on its members. It doesn't feel to me that there are the familiar periods of popularity and idea-fatigue; the movement feels a little smoother to me than that; the evaluative stakes seem a little lower. Ideas certainly move, but there don't seem to be all of the sharp edges that we're used to; the moments where distinctions between one idea, between one practice and another are sharply asserted. But I stand to be corrected on this.

Nimble Sociality: Bourdieu was amazed (or claimed to be amazed) that popular photography was governed by any standards at all. Without institutionalisation in the form of training, schooling, etc. (which was less prevalent in the 1950's when B was doing his work), he expected it to be ruled by an anarchy of styles (that is, not ruled at all). His work on photography takes off from that moment of (rhetorical) surprise to explain how, in fact, photographic practices are quite rigidly governed, why, and what the effects of this governance are on photographic practices. I don't have much of anything to say about social class (a concept on which Bourdieu relies heavily, as you might imagine if you've read any of this other work), but B also relies on a categorisation of photograhic styles or modes: ritual photographs (e.g. holiday shots, ceremonial shots), professional photographs (e.g. journalism) and art photographs. At this point, I think that social class (I don't have a good contemporary definition for this, and I'm not sure that I need one, so I'm just referring pretty blandly to income and the effects of income) is probably not so diverse on sites like flickr (although, it could well be more diverse than I know). But certainly the movements between ritual, professional and art photography are very nimble. The influences or lines of communication run up and down, nimbly, and I think _distinction_ is not the only way in which those zones of practice interrelate.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Roster to Thank

Thanks to...

nedrichards
catfunt
johanna
769 imaging
dubmill
Louise Oldfield

...for each spending a few hours with me this week (and last). From kitsch to authorship to "social software" to the crisis of contemporary photography to cronyism in local public funding to the uses for mediocrity: conversations about photography range far and wide. Thank you all.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My Early Raining

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