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Museums and modernity

Sunday, 26 April 2009

I’ve been on Flickr since, oooh, at least early 2004 and one thing I’ve noticed is the different way different cultural organisations are responding to the web 2.0 channels.

Flickr allows users of museums and galleries to create their own virtual tours of the exhibitions, or to pool their images to make a large mosaic of the place. Not just the exhibits but also the structures. Some organisations run flickr groups in order to create exhibits and events: the Tate‘s How We Are Now and the National Maritime‘s Beside the Seaside.  And some are also using it as a means to make their archives available: the National Maritime again, and the Library of Congress. Some also turn a blind eye to infringements of the on-site photography rules (I know at least one Tate employee knows about Tate Galleries for example).

What has really impressed me today is the Victoria & Albert‘s decision to actively engage and encourage visitors to take photos not just of the structure of the museum but of the exhibits.  Their flickr group includes themes and effective treasure hunts which actively want people to take photos of their treasures.

I’m not a fan of people who take photos instead of looking at exhibits, especially if they, say, use flash photography in rooms with deliberately lowered light levels. Some woman at Versailles walked into a room that was dimmed to protect an ancient tapestry and fired off a bunch of shots. The shots tend to be rubbish anyway, and the flashes incrementally damage the very objects you’ve come to admire. It’s annoying, and museums and galleries are right to restrict photography when necessary. The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Galeries Nationales, for example, were ruthless in enforcing a photography ban. Buy a postcard, people. Or at least look at the actual object whilst you’re in front of it.

Anyway, I’m delighted that one of my favourite museums – and one whose temporary exhibitions like Modernism and  Cold War Modern often cause me to get over-excited, over-whelmed and footsore – is embracing the idea of a virtual, user-built, museum. Their flickr group is a delight and well worth visiting if you can’t make South Ken regularly.

A day in the life…

Monday, 6 April 2009

Apologies for pic-spamming – I just get so little time right now. Here’s what Friday was like, morning and night.

morning mist at the weir bright lights...

15% fail

Thursday, 26 February 2009

After 57 days on the flickr 365 project, I’ve missed 9 so far. Saturdays seem particularly hard to remember for some reason.

Click on the merry go round to see the 365 set.
365 set

The Wild Wild Wood

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Over the break, I was writing a story set in a West Country winter. One image I had in my head was of wild, bare trees tangling together, and I kept thinking I ought to go up to the ridgeway by my house to get some good photos. The story is done and in with an editor, and finally, yesterday, I walked up to the ridge.

It’s why I love living where I do. I’m in an urban area, all takeaways and Saturday night fights. But I can walk for ten minutes and be on the cusp of the countryside: the city sits in the Exe valley to the east, but to the west is farmland and high hills. The Exeter Green Circle is like this a lot of the way. This was up by Barley Valley Nature Reserve, about an hour before the winds started to pick up. And it’s just the sort of image I was trying to describe.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Two weeks of taking a daily photo is starting to make me realise how much fun this will be to keep up for a year. What with multiple hen nights, multiple weddings and all sorts of other fun just in the first twenty-six weeks of the year. I’m only 3% of the way through, and today I posted my first duplicate (a morning shot of the Cathedral to go with the night shot from last week).

Still, the fortnight has shown more variety than you might expect:

  • A merry go round in London
  • the Exe
  • a frozen hydrangea
  • some flower buds
  • coffeeeeee (back to work)
  • a pub fire
  • the street closed for repairs
  • the Cathedral
  • some out of focus trees
  • the Post Office tower lost in fog (in London – need to review Space Raoul and the Dan Dare exhibit at the Science Museum)
  • a Tube train
  • the glass/light scupltures/seats in Princesshay
  • the moon (back late from cinema – need to review The Reader)
  • a misty Cathedral

Not too shoddy for two ‘quiet’ weeks when I was mostly getting back into the day job and finishing a short story (details to be announced one of these days).

Click on the merry go round to see the 365 set.
365 set


Friday, 2 January 2009

It should be easy in theory: a photo a day for a year. Let’s see how I manage.

Last year, I was conscious my enjoyment of photography had declined, and my much loved Nikon Coolpix E4100 was starting to become very beaten up. Unsurprisingly, given it was thrown into my bag and taken to La Gomera, Barcelona and Berlin among many other places. Whenever I switched it on, there was a grinding sound as the lens extended, which I was fairly sure meant it had come to the end of its life as my daily camera. The chap got me a very nice Nikon P5100 which I am currently poking about with and trying to remember my distant art school lessons in f-stops etc so I can play with the photos I take more. So in theory the plan to take a photo a day should encourage me to make full use of its functions. I am already in love with both the HI ISO setting and the A setting.

Click on the merry go round to see the 365 set.
365 set

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