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Susan Glover

Photography and the Black Art [Printmaking]

The First Post: Retrograde Web Choices

Some years ago on The Foundation (a BlogTalkRadio Poetry and Arts show I co-hosted with Larry Kuechlin -the poet behind Alabaster & Mercury) we hosted a two-hour special “What is Photography?” inspired by personal desires to define what it is we hope to express via the medium in real, tangible, and practical ways. How photography differs from other creative expressions yet the creative issues remain the same regardless of medium.

One of the other tangents was a discussion on social networks -specifically FaceBook- and the impact on our ability to present work to a broader, global, audience (which is the Good Thing) and the restriction it places on how we can present that content and the dangers of overexposure and market saturation (the Bad Thing).

So … How come I’ve only got 144 characters to make a statement and 490 pixels wide to post a photograph?”

This is a very real trend as social media giants simultaneously want our content to populate and drive their sites, generating traffic, yet hold the purse strings tighter and tighter on expenditures relating to providing that free content. Things like bandwidth, storage, maintaining a streamlined and tasteful GUI rather then allow people to design their profiles in any godawful colour scheme they wish, sound off at length without concern for trending, and post images that maybe should not have been “posted large”! The price for all this homogeneity? The graceful whitewashing of the networks?

It’s the dumbing down of expression!

At some point, the medium (social networks) will start dictating the nature of the content we produce! If you think that’s extreme … where do you think the phrase “thirty-second attention span” came from? Why do you think we all try to communicate in soundbites? Is the New Black the necessity to microbyte and slim ourselves down to fit the fashion? In this evolution of “less is more” it appears that if we all say less we can have more of the less-saying!

It’s content that must fit into the white space reserved/created by media publishers – Twitters, status updates, file compression and corruption. We’re constantly adjusting our standards and -yes, even what we create- to fit within someone else’s guidelines and TOS. Why? Of course there is a benefit; otherwise why are we on there? It is a means to share information, resources, chatter with friends, make new ones in countries we may never visit, in other words … it’s a Hangout. I like hanging out! I’ll even keep some of my toys at the hangout. But it’s not enough! If I want to present a multipage tutorial for the Cameloteers (now in permanent limbo as a group of over 1,000 photographers of all kinds) … well it ain’t gonna happen on FaceBook! And MySpace is proverbially dead (though they still don’t know it).

So, until there is a place that can accommodate our desire to express creatively, maybe we should all ‘go back to having websites‘!

After all, where else can I sound off and use 3024 characters (with spaces) to do it!

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