Thursday, July 28, 2011

I opened an exhibition at Advision in Wagga

Michael Agzarian and the rest of Advision put on an exhibition of phone photography which launched tonight.  I was asked to officially open the exhibition which was a first for me.  The space was full despite what the picture says.

I also wrote a blurb for the room notes which was one of three statements used to discuss the subject matter of the show.  It read:

Giving yourself constraints or limitations often leads to the best results.  Some constraints are deadlines, budgets etc, but choosing a visual medium is a crucial set of constraints within which one chooses to work.

The smartphone camera has some obvious limitations: Its depth of field is second rate, it has a modest range of mega pixels on the sensor, you usually can't control the f-stop or the shutter speed.  However the smartphone camera has the biggest freedom above any other camera:  It is ALWAYS within reach, ready to capture any moment.  People can easily take a photo without having to lug around a big machine or take an extra bag of stuff just in case there's a good picture to be taken.

This has led to a number of criticisms of the so called democratisation of technology.  Andrew Keen refers to it as the "cult of the amateur".  I tend to find that people with these criticisms lack curiosity.  In a changing world its important to have an open of what photography is.  Just recently I heard a fully grown man asserting that if you stage a photograph, then it is in fact not photography.  

Phonography is not to be confused with 19th century phonographs used to record audio.  Phonography carries with it its own aesthetic and its own distribution system.  Images from phone cameras are ubiquitous now and can be seen widely on social media sites like facebook, twitter, tumblr, blogger, and google+.  When one takes a photo the device offers options to email the image, upload it onto a website, or MMS it to a friend.  This method of distribution is as much about the medium as is the zoom, flash or focus.  Some people make entire facebook albums of photos of themselves in swim-wear, some people make entire albums of their newborn pets but some people make interesting and beautiful images like those exhibited here.  The phonographers in this group show give us special moments in time.  They're doing interesting things with composition, working through interesting effects in new ways and showing us slices of life we've not noticed or had access to.  

Included in the exhibition is an iPhone painting I made of Sonya Gee years ago and can be viewed in here:  Sonya at Starbucks, 2009. Digital finger painting

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