Monday, January 20, 2014

On View

Bethesda Terrace - 219, 2013

(Click on image to see larger.)

I am of the generation raised to think that you’re not a legitimate artist until you’ve had a “show” at a gallery where people stand around on a Friday night wearing turtlenecks, swill wine and admire your work.

I’ve never had a gallery show. I’ve been in a few, but none that were just about me. I’m not complaining, though. I haven’t been diligent in pursuing such exposure. Besides, I have the vacuum tubes of the Internet to keep me warm.

For over ten years I’ve been posting photographs almost every day at one or another online sites, the idea being that if I post something every day by the end of the year I’ll have at least a few photographs I think are worth something.

That’s been pretty much the case. The unexpected consequence is that doing so has also connected me with a large community of kindred souls. To be honest, this kinship has been the best part. But the visibility’s not bad, either. My “art,” such as it is, is seen by far more people every day than could ever see it in a gallery.

Take this past week. More than six hundred people have asked to see what I’m doing on a daily basis. Under normal circumstances, the number who actually click on the thumbnail-sized images to see them larger is much smaller, around a hundred.

But this past week two of my photographs were featured on Flickr’s “Explore” page, where photographs that some faceless Flickr employee or computer algorithm think is worth presenting on a larger stage gets shown. The payoff is that the number of people who are exposed to your is huge. In the case of the photo above, more than fourteen sixteen eighteen nineteen twenty thousand people have clicked on it to see it larger.

That’s no small crowd. And even though they might have been sitting in their pajamas in Paris, Seoul, St. Petersburg or Cincinnati instead dressed up in their best turtleneck at a gallery on a Friday night, their recognition and kind thoughts are no less affirming. We’re all sharing, enjoying and learning from each other, and along the way creating a community that makes us all much better global citizens

(For all of the vanity of thinking that the popularity of the image shown above is all because of something I did, I’m of the sneaky suspicion that this photo was inspired, however, subconsciously, by Eugene Smith’s A Walk to the Paradise Garden from his Smith's 1955 Family of Man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. )

1 comment:

  1. I have been wondering about the Flickr stats as well - how many actually click through and view and when is a view a view ... especially with the new layout, is scrolling past counted? There will, I suppose, always be a few lucky souls with gallery shows of their own; us mortals, partly swamped and partly enabled by the possibility of an electronic interaction, will have to make do with the PJ crowd! As Canada's most recent Venice Biennale artist Shary Boyle said ""Maybe it will lead to a great show where I meet a bunch of people I've never talked to before. For me, that's what it's all about: who's communicating, who's listening.” (Walrus, July/August 2013, p71) Cheers!