As some of you may know I like to write and http://www.thehashtagofman.com is where I often expand on the collection of pictures that are growing on Instagram from this project. So when I had spent three hours crafting a thank you to ALL of you for your efforts in this first of what I hope to be many Soulstice shoots only to have it replaced by an edit due to leaving the cloud on – well I learned about saving things the hard way. Frustrated and utterly exhausted I tried to let this go, let the writing NOT happen, but I find it’s now as important as the curation. Simply sticking a photo, or a collection of photos, up just is not enough for this platform. Or so it has become this way.
One puts an idea out there into the virtual ecosystem and never knows exactly what to expect. What began as a project to test the analogue to digital curation process has brought with it many teachings and so #thehashtagofman has been my tutor.
It began as a project to test the credibility of Instagram. On viewing the front page I had become disheartened by the lens with which the “crowd” was looking through. It changed one day – and I didn’t see it coming – from quality imagery shot by phone to infomercial, bling and a typology of selfies. Where did all the “art” go?
Reaching into my photographic history The Family of Man has been the most successful photographic exhibition ever. Curating the human spirit, represented by a myriad of cultures, ages and events there was a stickiness that lay in the heart of this exhibition. Something which cross borders of countries and barriers of language. Imagery speaking.
Steichen- in those analogue, snail mail days – received over two million images in his call for submission as he prepared to curate the show for MoMA. I found this utterly inspiring. If one simply thinks of the analogue process to go from idea to execution to send to curation process etc. the amount of time invested in that is something we no longer can understand nor, more importantly could stomach. The focus developed out of the slowness in process we have all but given away. In this day of “instant” and “now” we have gained convenience, multitasking, overachieving – microwave food to microwave imagery. But we have also gained connections, networks, audience and a “place” where we, the creative class, can let out a spark from within and witness the breadth of the light we create through that fire that burns from the primitive of expression, voice, and being heard and through the fibre optics to screens which serve that metaphor of fire and light so rightly. In this transition I can only ask – have we lost anything?
So drilling deeper into this thought I wondered – if mobile photography and apps like Instagram are making it much more “democratic” a process now to have one’s visual voice presented and heard -in an instant and economical manner – then how would a Family of Man work today? In our contemporary ease of access from the spark of inspiration to “global” exhibition by way of the Instagram app, how do we respond to the brief of capturing the spirit of being human in this Now? How do our online friendships and building virtual communities, laid in the earth of the mobile phone image and raised on the foundation of tacit trust, keep ascending? And at which point do we recognise that we value our virtual community as much or more as our physical one?
These are not criticisms of our Now, they are just questions. I find that beyond the top-down architecture which appears in 1955 The Family of Man, #thehashtagofman shows that the images are only a start to the conversation, and that those conversations build community and that community is #thehashtagofman and woman and child. This circularity is what makes this the defining difference between us and the 1955 version. Or so I believe anyways. Please feel free to add your comments or thoughts to this. Be lovely to hear what you think.
To conclude it’s only fitting that with the adaptation of technology, and the movement ever forward and ever advancing, may I present images from the Summer Soul-stice shoot in Instagrams new video feature (those of you on Instagram can see it at @thehashtagofman). Thanks again folks!