Friday, May 21, 2010

Social Studies on BlogTalkRadio: Digital Media for Promotion of Art and Artists!

It's time for another installment of Social Studies on BlogTalkRadio, hosted by me! This time we'll look at Digital Media for promoting art and artists. Special guests for this episode are Mark Lindsay of Mark Lindsay Art and Washington DC-based artist Dana Ellyn. Both of these folks are working the social networks hard to get their work and their names out into the public eye. We'll hear all about their tips, tricks, trials, and tribulations. Whether you're an old hand at promotions or just beginning to think about using the web, digital media and social networking, you're sure to learn a little something from these two cutting-edge professionals!

TUNE IN SATURDAY at 7:30 pm EASTERN STANDARD TIME to listen live, or come back any time to check out the show on-demand!

Either way, you'll find us on my show page at BlogTalkRadio! Or, use the widget in the blog sidebar to access the show.

Then head back here to my blog for further discussion and commentary!

Join us!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photographic AppTitude

Many fine art photographers have had the cringe-inducing experience of being approached in the field by a stranger and told with great enthusiasm, "Oh, I'm a photographer too!" This exclamation was often followed by the stranger producing a digital point-and-shoot or SLR never taken off "auto" and showing a string of pedestrian snapshots in an attempt to demonstrate their point. This began happening with startling regularity as 35mm SLR cameras became popular in the consumer market. I admit that, in part, I moved from 35mm photography to medium format largely because NO ONE ever looked at my four-and-a-half-pounds-without-the-finder-or-the-lens Pentax 67 and thought for a moment that their Canon Rebel was roughly equivalent.

I've gradually come to accept the fact that digital photography is here to stay and has some interesting qualities that are worth exploration/exploitation. I have only recently purchased my first digital SLR (a Nikon--old habits die hard) and am gradually becoming comfortable with it, producing images that look simply like "my" work. Digital cameras are, after all, simply tools; ultimately it is the intent, skill, creativity and vision of the user that distinguishes artist from hobbyist from dweeb-with-a-camera. Interestingly enough, my favorite digital camera these days started out as my least-favorite digital camera--I'm talking about the camera on my iPhone.

Before I got the iPhone, I was using a Samsung Blackjack which had a tremendous camera with optical zoom and a host of in-camera adjustment options. It took wonderful images, so when I fired up the camera on my iPhone and found it largely optionless, with no zoom and no adjustment settings, I was extremely disappointed. But I've recently been exploring photo apps for the iPhone, and my disappointment has been largely erased by fascination.

Here are a few of my favorite Apps:

Best Camera was my first iPhone camera app. It provides 14 "effects" that can be applied to newly shot images or to images from the phone's image library. You can choose from basic changes like light, dark, warm, cool, contrast or desaturation or apply color tone effects like candy, jewel, or Paris. You can also change the presentation of the image (make it square or apply a frame) and the app's settings let you select working sizes ranging from 480 x 480 to 1600 x 1600, in addition to the image's original size. It also makes image sharing particularly easy, with in-app sharing links directly to your Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter accounts, as well as your email. By Ubermind, $2.99.

If you're a Polaroid enthusiast, you'll love ShakeIt. Wildly simple, this app from Nick Sayes and Kevin Wong lets you choose your frame (instant picture, peel-apart, or frameless) and apply it to a new or existing image. The image then "develops" on the phone screen while you watch; shaking the phone speeds the process along. The resulting image doesn't have the crazy cyan overtones of true SX-70 images, but the colors are flat and soft like the Polaroid pictures you might remember from childhood. 99 cents; there's also a free ShakeIt Lite.

Still more options are offered for your image-making fun by the Hipstamatic. This seductive little package is a camera-within-your-camera, and comes with a selection of different "lenses," "films," and "flashes" all of which produce unique effects in live-shot images. Insidiously enough, there are additional lenses, films, flashes and packages that you can purchase (and of course I got them all and had spent $8 at the App Store before I even realized it). You can mix and match them all, depending on your mood. Loads of fun, and a genius time- and bandwidth-waster, with easy in-App upload to Facebook, Flickr, or email. By Synthetic Corp. Basic package is $1.99, but a warning ... you won't want to stop there! The four optional "Hipstapaks" are 99 cents each.

Retro Camera is another option-packed PhotoApp that lets you apply a huge variety of special effects to either newly made or already-saved images. In addition to basic edits like size, position, and rotation, Retro Camera offers you a "toolbox" that enables you to choose your "film," as well as alter the image's contrast, grain noise, and texture. You can apply blur, or color effects, and select from more than 20 frames in 16 colors. One caveat--your images will not automatically save, so remember to "save" after you're satisfied with the final result. The free version leaves a logo at the bottom of your finished image (easily removed with Photoshop, if you're so inclined) and runs ads at the top of the app; the paid version is only $1.99. By CLBITZ Ubiquitous Communications.

There are, of course, literally HUNDREDS of camera apps out there; I've already identified more I would love to play with. I'm coming to consider my iPhone images their own art form. If you're an iPhone user, I'd love to hear from you about your favorite camera apps; if you've got the Droid or another App-based phone, let's hear what kind of creative chops you've been able to discover! Meanwhile, you can check out some more fun App-based images on Facebook.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gallery as Experience

My most recent installment of Social Studies, my BlogTalkRadio show, was quite interesting. If you are one of its 3.9 regular listeners, you'll know that the topic was the role of brick and mortar galleries in the current climate. I obtained comments from a range of folks, including gallerists, artists, collectors and art patrons ... I also drew from my own experience with galleries and alternative spaces, as well as the anecdotes of friends.

I found surprising the incredible range of interpretation of essentially every aspect of the question I was investigating. The notion of "art" ran the gammut from anything exhibitable (and some things not exhibitable) to Work By Dead Masters. The value of art was identified as monetary, aesthetic, cultural, spiritual. "Galleries" were viewed as "formalized spaces for exhibitions" to "only named and recognized venues in the Major Art Capitols" to "storefronts for the commerce of art."

However, all the commenters referrenced the brick-and-mortar art gallery as a place to be with art. Not a place to buy, not a place to sell, not a place to show, but a place to experience.

My favorite comment on this point came from Laura McConnell, a friend and art patron from Baltimore, MD. "Just as print media and books have their tactile experiences, galleries give a sensory and tactile experience for both the artist and the viewer that other promotional mediums just can’t offer."

So. If we consider the provision or creation of a sensory, tactile shared experience as the real raison d'etre for brick-and-mortar galleries, where does that leave us? How can galleries enhance and capitalize on this idea? What new expectations does this set up for the artist? For the gallerist? For the art-viewing public? I'll try to tackle those questions on a future segment of Social Studies; in the meantime, I welcome your comments here (as long as they are in a language I read, which means ENGLISH or FRENCH, and advance the discussion and aren't "i like ur article" spam--those comments will be rejected, sorry.)