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Photo: Daniel Stier, from Ways of Knowing, 2015.

A couple of my fav photo-peeps are hosting a live online chat today about photography and science in the modern era. You can be involved. Michael Shaw of Reading the Pictures and independent curator Marvin Heiferman are putting on a salon conversation to analyze a group of ten news photos of “science” of one guise or another.

Panelists include Rebecca Adelman UMBC Professor of Media & Communication Studies; Ben de la Cruz, Multimedia Editor, Science Desk, NPR; Corey Keller, Curator, SFMOMA; Kurt Mutchler, Senior Editor, Science, Photography Department, National Geographic; and Max Mutchler, Space Telescope Science Institute, Hubble Heritage Project manager. Nate Stormer, University of Maine professor will moderate.

The ten photos were selected from thousands of media images.

“If photography was invented,” writes Shaw, “so that the sciences could communicate with each other, now it’s as much about making that investigation relevant to consumers, investors and alternately curious, fearful or enthralled citizens. This discussion is interested in science as a social agenda and a media phenomenon. It’s about the popularization of science, the attitude and approach on the part of science toward its own activities and what the general public sees of it.”

It will be fascinating. The salon is free but registration is required. Register here. Kicks of today December 1st, at 7 pm EST and will go for 2 hours on Google HangOut with live audio, video and with involvement from the public via live chat.

The discussion, jointly produced with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is a featured component of SEEING SCIENCE, a year-long project that explores the role photography plays in shaping, representing, and furthering the sciences.

Sign up here.

PaccarikOrue

Paccarik Orue. BS Ice Cream, I Love Ice Cream, 2010. From the series ‘There is Nothing Beautiful Around Here.’

When mentioning, yesterday, that the Status Update book is now on sale, I listed the press thus far. Hours after I published that post, Michael Shaw published his own — a review of the show at Reading The Pictures. More accurately a review of the edit of images within the projects.

Shaw’s review, titled Silicon Valley in the Mirror pairs some images and makes juxtaposition between others. It’s full of the pep and the frenetic keen-eyed we’ve come to expect of RTP articles.

I think Shaw is being deliberately provocative putting Silicon Valley front and center of the title and piece; he knows Rian Dundon, Catchlight and I wanted to create a show that went beyond the “tech narratives” but Shaw, to be fair, makes good points to say that all aspects of this Bay Area region are (knowlingly or unknowingly) in response or conversation with tech monies, people, culture and economies.

On Talia Herman‘s photographs of her family and his comment that “the symptom on the flip side of the [tech] boom is narcolepsy” I reckon Shaw misinterpreted the images and our curation. If there’s a slowness in the countryside and in the last embers of counter culture, it’s still a chosen sleepier pace; a calm, not a fatigue.

I love, though, what Shaw had to say about Paccarik Orue‘s portrait of a Sikh ice-cream vendor in Richmond:

“So much for virtual reality and commodification. In Orue’s photo, a sense of place (and respectful commerce, too) comes from identity and ritual, faith and ethnicity, as well as all the old flavors of the neighborhood.”

Good stuff.

 

Read Status Update: Silicon Valley in the Mirror

HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU

On March 1st, I was a panelist for the BagNewsNotes Salon The Lens in the Mirror: How Surveillance is Pictured in the Media and Public Culture.

In coordination with the Open Society Watching You, Watching Me exhibition, this online panel wanted to reflect not only upon surveillance in our society but how it is pictured and if those depictions meet the realities of networked viewing that are at constant play behind our walls,, systems, nodes and screens.

I felt like an amateur in the room with other esteemed panelists lining up thus – Simone Browne, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, UT Austin; Cara Finnegan (moderator) writer, photography historian, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Illinois; Rachel Hall, Associate Professor, Communication Studies at Louisiana State University; Marvin Heiferman, writer and curator; Hamid Khan, co-ordinator, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition; and Simon Menner, artist, and member of OSF surveillance exhibition.

Over two hours discussion, we discuss 10 images in turn. They flash up as we deconstruct their meanings, but it might be helpful to consult the gallery first, too.

Over the coming weeks, BagNews will be adding highlight clips for easier to digest morsels that get to the meat of our conversation.

“Surveillance technology permeates the social landscape,” says BagNews. “Tiny cameras monitor traffic, parking lots, cash registers and every corner of federal buildings. Through personal devices and social media, citizens also monitor one other.” In the highlight clip (above), moderator Cara Finnegan and panelists Simon Menner, Simone Browne, Hamid Khan, Rachel Hall and Pete Brook discuss generic imagery and the use of stock photography to represent this reality of daily life

SALON

The BagNewsSalon is an on-line, real-time discussion between photojournalists, visual academics and other visual or subject experts. Each salon examines a set of images relevant to the visual stories of the day often focusing on how the media and social media has framed the event. The photo edit is the key element and driver of each Salon discussion and great care is taken to create a group of photos that captures the depth and breadth of media representation.

Northwestern University in Evanston, IL is to host the conference ‘Blogging Images: Photojournalism and Public Commentary’ on Saturday, April 30th.

Robert Hariman explains why here:

“Because photojournalism is a public art, it exists in part to provoke and inform public discussion.  Likewise, good public discussion includes talking about images as a way of thinking about public affairs and other things held in common.  Although photojournalism has been accompanied by commentary from its inception, digital technologies have provided both new media for image circulation and new venues for critical commentary and audience interaction.  These changes provide an opportunity for scholars in the humanities to become more directly engaged with public audiences, but effective engagement is likely to require different skills and perhaps different attitudes than those that characterize academic discourse.”

Speakers include Brian Ulrich, (Document to Propaganda: The New Face of Photographic Truth), Jim Johnson (The Uses of Photography: Thinking About Public Space) and Michael Shaw of BagNewsNotes (Role and Process of Analyzing News Images). Looking forward to the conclusions.

Michael Shaw has been conscientiously restructuring BagNewsNotes over the past six months or so. Here’s how he describes the rebranded Bag:

• An almost hypnotizing archive featuring hundreds of ways to sort through our over 3000 image posts.

• A dedicated photojournalism section, BagNewsOriginals, steered by long-time BNN contributor, Alan Chin with a powerful lineup showcasing BAG’s distinguished contributor, Nina Berman, fresh off her Whitney Biennial success; World Press and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Suau on the economy; and much, much more.

• A Salon section managed by the talented photographer and multimedia producer, Sandra Roa, formerly of the NYT Lens Blog, mixing audio slideshows and live chats, all focusing on key images of the day. We kick off on Wednesday with an audio slide show featuring Ashley Gilbertson’s look at the bedroom shrines of fallen US soldiers.

•  Our mainstay news image analysis by BAG publisher Michael Shaw, with new contributors, including: acclaimed photojournalist Chris Hondros conducting exclusive interviews; leading visual academics Bob Hariman and John Lucaites deconstructing visual culture; and former White House photographer, Stephen Ferry, on media’s pictorial stereotyping of the third world.

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The Bag is all about demystifying (political) imagery and helping people along with visual literacy. Yes, audiences are more savvy, more sophisticated, but there is still a distance to go.

The Bag is the most persistent contributor to this ongoing analysis. The importance of the Bag’s ever critical eye cannot be underestimated in a world that sinks deeper into the swell of images every day.

The new look by designer Naz Hamid of Weightshift is super navigable and I think it is funny (humorous) that the Bag has made use of the same font used by the New York Times’ arts and media blogs.

The font choice is a cheeky nod to the subtle echoes of form and type that run through our daily visual experiences! It’s as if the Bag is testing its own hypothesis from within the permanent elements of its own visual architecture. That, and it doesn’t hurt to have subliminal associations with the Grey Lady!

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MY CONTRIBUTION?

Last year, Shaw contacted me and at the same time as describing Bag’s sweeping changes asked me if I’d come on-board as a contributor.

Writings on US prisons here on Prison Photography will be cross-posted to the Bag in order to bring images and issues of America’s prison industrial complex to a wider audience.

I’ve a got a couple of posts coming up this week so stay alert for those and for all that the Bag offers consequently.

A29

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Why?

There have been two prevailing attitudes toward the proposed conference/symposium dealing with issues of race and diversity in photography:

a) That it is absolutely necessary & b) It is a terrifying prospect.

The first point speaks for itself, and the second point becomes clear when one considers the kerfuffles, misunderstanding and (dare I say it) vitriol that has accompanied much online discussion.

I have been in contact with some, but by no means all, people who could contribute to an extended dialogue. These include Amy Stein, Ben Chesterton, Colin Pantall, Daniel Cuthbert, Daryl Lang, Jean-Sebastien Boncy, Joerg Colberg, John Edwin Mason, Mark Page, Matt Lutton, Michael Shaw, M. Scott Brauer, Nathalie Belayche, Qiana Mestrich and Stan Banos. They have been very generous in response.

Originally, I suggested mixing things up by means of an in-person meet. This was intended to directly address the inadequacies of online discussion. However, when Qiana Mestrich of Dodge & Burn alerted us to SPE‘s conference in March, 2010: “Facing Diversity: Leveling the Playing Field in the Photographic Arts” it was clear that we may just end up replicating (on a smaller scale) SPE’s efforts.

The early feeling was that to piggyback on the back of an existing photography festival could leverage most involvement and impact. Boncy has had good feedback from Houston Fotofest and Lang believes that PDN would want to collaborate and lend a hand for an event at New York Photo Festival. These are very, very encouraging early signs.

In terms of organisation, these prospects are a far cry from the normal activities bloggers. Bearing in mind that this idea was conceived to challenge the tried and tired modes of photography blog discourse, it is difficult to conceive of good reasons to forsake our collective blogging strengths (wide-reaching audiences, maximum engagement, a breadth of coverage and investigation and first rate methods).

We haven’t abandoned a desire for a face-to-face meet and indeed we’ll continue to lobby established photography festivals and industry expos for the inclusion of extended discussions about race and diversity.

But, we are aware of our strengths. Simply put; a focused and concerted online effort will impact and forward dialogue more than a bunch of bloggers gathering in a single room could.

Early plans

This will be an Online Symposium. I would like see a concerted effort among photobloggers: I offer an open invitation to all those who wish to get involved.

The online symposium will look something like this:

– Occurring mid/late spring 2010
– A one week long, coordinated series of photo-features, interviews, op-eds, inquiries and articles.
– All written works will aim to compliment and build upon one another, not repeat or needlessly criticise.
– All written works will be subject to peer-review (a grand term for “read by another blogger”) prior to publication.
– It will incorporate the widest mix of experiences in the industry as possible. Discussion may vary from academic speculations on representations to the everyday experience of the working photographer.

Aims

– To communicate the wide experiences, attitudes, facts and myths in photography as they relate to race and diversity.
– To achieve respect and understanding among photographers, contributors and readers.
– To test the reach and strength of blog-networks as they relate to photography.
– To be progressive instead of reactive in our tone and objectives.
– To leave a legacy and record of this community action that will be of use and reference for continued learning.

What Should You D0?

– Please think seriously about your experience and knowledge and if you’d like to share that as part of this community project.
– Spread the word. If you don’t wish to get involved, perhaps you know someone who would have a valuable contribution?
– Share your ideas, initially through comments below, or directly with me [prisonphotography at gmail point com] and later on a devoted website.

Thanks! Please don’t hesitate to be in touch/throw ideas about. The projects’ outcomes depend on the quality and commitment of your input.

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