Photography, Technology and Connections in the Name of Art

I find it awesome when the digital and “real” worlds intersect for collective benefit, especially in the name of art.

Two Winston-Salem Arts Institutions

I just had the pleasure of attending a free lecture hosted by SECCA — The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art — about select photographic works of our city’s Arts Council (full disclosure below). Because of technology, a passion for art, and social networking, the experience became amplified. And that sort of thing gives me hope for the world.

Several items from the council’s photography collection were to be on display at a local gallery, and Michael Christiano, Curator of Education at SECCA (check them out on WordPress), gave a crash course in photographic appreciation to start the evening off.

In the span of 20 minutes, he covered many of the greats — Robert Frank, Edward Weston, Jerry Uelsmann (my all-time favorite & inspiration) — along with several others, highlighting how the collection’s works being shared were representative of the media’s progression over time. In a larger sense, this collection and these artists aside, it was a notable reflection on how the technology of photography lets us put form to something intangible like memory.

Think of a photo that ever brought a “wow” from your lips.
Kiss Me Like You Promise Me Heaven in Your Lips

Kiss Me Like You Promise Me Heaven in Your Lips - © Sion Fullana. All Rights Reserved.

Considering such technology didn’t even exist two centuries ago, it’s rather an amazing jump in human communication that we practically take for granted nowadays, what with cameras in our phones and everywhere else.

But it’s that jump in communication having to do with photography that compels this post. Because of my growing interest/obsession with street photography and iPhoneography (thanks to Instagram and appreciating the art of others), I, of course, had to snap the below image with my phone just as the lecture was getting started. The meta-ness of the moment was too great not to indulge:

Meta-techno-photography moment captured. Click for the full conversation.

A photo from my iPhone at a lecture on photography prior to a photography exhibit that I later published via a photo-sharing app. Now you're reading a blog about it.

Naturally, this immediately went up on Instagram.

The evening progressed; the lecture was great; we perused photos and headed home. Later that night, @lindsyarb — someone I’ve never met except via Instagram — noticed the photo, asking to know more about the event and who hosted. Turns out we’re all in the same city, so I shared SECCA’s details and she signed up for their mailing list.

Instagram Conversation

Did you catch what just happened there?

Through technology, interest in art is shared and fostered — relative to the local community, no less — connections are made, and we actually live through a jump in human communication… not over the centuries, but over wi-fi and social networks in real-time… through a shared appreciation for the creative spirit fostered by photography.

Now that’s art. Or at the very least, I’ve got a little more hope for the world. :)

Have you ever made a real-world connection via social media? Is there an Arts Council or equivalent in your city, and do you take part? How have you come to be inspired in an artistic fashion, and do you enjoy sharing that with others? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Full disclosure: I work for a company whose parent is also parent to a corporate donor to the Arts Council. This post is not intended to promote either company or this collection, but rather to expound on the general idea of technology as a facilitator for interest in the visual arts.

13 thoughts on “Photography, Technology and Connections in the Name of Art

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  6. Lara Feltin

    Great observations. I love stories like the one you shared. I think this new technology is the bomb but I’ve found that while social media sites are great tools for community-building, they’re pretty dull tools without the key ingredient you’ve demonstrated numerous times in this post – showing up.

    You showed up by taking the photo of the “street photography” slide and posting it to IG. It took showing up to respond to @lindsyarb, then you showed up again by sharing the story through this blog post. What’s really cool is how you’ve continued to show up, by sharing this post with *me* and I imagine many others. As long as we all keep showing up, we’ll keep having these great experiences. If we don’t, we’ll be left with a bunch of broadcasting tools with fun UI.

    Reply
    1. rsmithing

      Michael, thanks so much for your kind words and for being a good sport with this feature. I hope to bring more to our local arts community in whatever way I’m able.

      Reply
  7. akwamarina (@iPhonehipsta)

    Hi Richard, Firstly thanx so much for your visit and compliments on my feature on the iPhoneography blog, much appreciated! This here is very interesting, there are so many aspects to this photographic and cultural revolution we are involved in and you are making a very valid point. The social aspect is new and very important, especially in this day and age! Look forward to reading you more! Cheers marina

    Reply
    1. rsmithing

      Hey Marina – thanks for stopping by, and especially for kindly saying I make a valid point (rather than rambling on and on). That means quite a lot coming from you. I do enjoy your stuff, so keep it coming!

      Reply

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