Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication


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Remixed photography awarded and on display

Photo: Michael Wolf

A series of unfortunate events. Photo by: Michael Wolf.

In March I gave a presentation at the Photo festival Fotografi i fokus at Malmö Museer, giving my view on photography, curation and the role of the museum.

A growing movement within photography today is, unsurprisingly, remixing. Professional photographers use images online to create new works of art. How does this affect our roles as museum curators and archivists? When the professional photographers challenge the way we look at photography does it matter to us?

Earlier this year two photographers caught my attention for remixing other’s photographs:

Honorable mention at World Press Photo Awards

For the first time a photographer, Michal Wolf, recieved an honorable mention in the World Press Photo Awards for taking pictures of someone else’s photos. ”Someone else” in this case is Google Street view.The honorable mention caused vivid discussions: Is this photojournalism?

This is a great example of the photographer’s new role, he moves beyond being just a creator, but rather a co-creator and a curator.

http://www.photomichaelwolf.com/intro/index.html

http://www.dvafoto.com/2011/02/some-thoughts-on-google-street-view-and-world-press-photo/

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2025845/world-press-photo-google-street-view-photojournalism

Photo: Corinne VionnetPhoto opportunities

Swiss photographer Corinne Vionnet creates new works of art by collecting and remixing the most typical tourist images online.

The photographer searches the internet for tourist images. Apparently people constantly take pictures of famous monuments and buildings from the same angle (very interesting in itself), the way they’ve seen it depicted. The tourist images are being added one to another into new unique images.

Her work was recently shown at Arles Photo Festival.

http://www.corinnevionnet.com/site/entry.php?o=1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8607995/Looks-familiar-Corinne-Vionnet-at-Arles-photography-festival.html

This next example is not of professional photographers remixing but of the audience’s remixing taken one step further:

Photo by Noam Galai, The Stolen ScreamThe stolen scream

A self portrait by photographer Noam Galai uploaded to Flickr in 2006 has grown into an icon photograph, similar to the one of Che Guevara.

”About two years after publishing photos of myself screaming on Flickr, I discovered that my face was ‘for sale’ in several stores around the world, as well as on the Web and spotted it in places like Spain, Iran, Mexico, England and many other places.”

In this case there are the audiences online that remix and reuse the work of art of a professional photographer. This is in itself nothing new, but the fact that the photo has become an icon, used in the same way as the Che Guevara portrait is very interesting.

http://screameverywhere.com/

http://screameverywhere.com/wordpress/

http://vimeo.com/20718237

And more…

An article in French: http://www.telerama.fr/scenes/oui-on-peut-etre-photographe-avec-les-photos-des-autres,70936.php

So, what’s this got to do with me?

As a museum employee, and having worked with photographic collections in different ways the last 15 years, I am very interested in how this change in photography’s role will affect the way we collect and disseminate photography. When the photographers themselves ask new questions about photography, why shouldn’t we?

What about copyright? Is my photo of the Eifel Tower in Paris now a part of Corinne Vionnet’s work of art? And what about Google Street View, who is the photographer, really?

What about uniqueness: When the artist is a co-creator rather than the unique originator, do we need to document the creation of the photograph in a different way when collecting?

Will our willingness to provide our photographic collections online, open and free, increase (be more accepted) when remixing is no longer something young (read: cheeky)  internet savvy kids do, but is accepted and practiced among professionals (photographers and others)?

I am all excited about the changes in photography brought on by digitization, internet and social media, and I do hope we’ll see more discussions about the role of photography within museums in the years to come.

Reading tips:

Look for publications from professor Elizabeth Edwards (De Montfort University, Leicester, UK) and professor Joan M. Schwartz (Queens University, Kingston, CA) among others for excellent texts on photography, curation and collecting.

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What about Google+ ?

I was just about to write a blog post on digital communication and museums when I got stuck in Google+*. A couple of people had added me to their circles this morning, and suddenly a long discussion on the use of circles (and Google+) distracted me. So this will be a post on Google+.

Why Google+ attracts early adopters

I am one of the early adopters that have entered into Google+ to find out more about this new service, along with 10 000 000 others apparently. It’s grown tremendously fast from launch, but even though the users are the size of a nation (like Sweden) we still have left most people on Facebook behind. The people trying out Google+ are mostly people who are into using Twitter and interested in social media and innovation. And that last reason is why I enjoy discovering Google+. It’s brand new, it’s got potential to grow and it seems a lot more useful than Google Wave that was launched a couple of years ago.

So, what about Google+ ?

Describing Google+ is not that easy because we haven’t really discovered the full use of the service (mainly because it’s still in Beta-version). Some have described it as a competitor to Facebook. Indeed it looks a lot like Facebook with a status wall, with “friends” and the possibility of sharing photos, links, videos etc.

Some have described it as a mix of Facebook and Twitter, the microblog service. Google+ is more open than Facebook, and will I believe be regarded as a more transparent option where people you don’t know will be able to take part of your updates.

So the core use of Google+ today is the possibility to connect with people sharing the same interests, people you find interesting, get a flow of news updates and take part in conversations.

However, what seems to confuse users is the possibility of categorizing people into circles (groups of people that make up a network). The point of circles is to filter your communication and be able to talk to one group of people at a time. And how do you define these groups? On Twitter all followers, and people you follow, are in the same group or category. No difference. On Google+ you suddenly have the opportunity to classify people (and the purpose is not to tag people savvy or less savvy, interesting or less interesting, tall or short, etc. though that could be interesting!).

The people you add to your Google+ won’t see which circle you put them in. You can also get all updates from all circles in one flow of updates on your start page, and you are able as an option, to filter the start page and only get updates from one circle at a time.

How do I use circles?

As of today I place all people in one circle. What’s the point of circles then you may ask. First of all I want to have this wonderful mix of people that Twitter allows, the diversity that is so enriching.

Secondly, I see circles as a way of communicating with people around certain topics or interests. It’s the possibility of niched networks. I am well aware of that niched networks need fuel to thrive, and that could be a project or an event for example, and I see great possibilities to work on projects in Google+ together with the use of Google Docs, Calendar etc (what about schools? In classrooms? Educational purposes?).

I intend to evaluate the use of Google+ (instead of for eample Basecamp or Huddle) a couple of months down the road, when trying it out for a project. Already a great advantage is that since I am a daily user of Google (Gmail, Analytics etc.) it’s excellent to be able to collaborate through Google+: I don’t have to log into yet another service, I have Google docs, calendar, Gmail etc. within reach, and it’s free!

I just spotted a question on Google+ by Jim Richardson: Will Google+ keep you logging in? Well I intend to share and take part in conversations, and as long as others do, it will be a place where ideas will thrive and knowledge will be shared. This will keep me logged in. And if that open discussion doesn’t take off in Google+, I will most likely use it as all other Google apps and services (which is quite a lot).

* At this point Google+ requires an invite but will, it seems, soon be open everyone.

Find me on Google+