Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

17 APRIL, 2009

As Seen On Earth: The Infinite Photograph

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A portrait of Earth painted with 300,000 brushes, or why editorial curation and user-generated content can be friends.

There’s no question National Geographic is a photographic force to be reckoned with. And now they’re on a mission to inspire people to care about the planet through a gigantic collaborative photo-mosaic of the Earth.

Infinite Photograph is a global project building a portrait of Earth seen through the eyes of ordinary people, a promotional effort for NG’s MyShot initiative. Think of it as crowdsourcing meets collage meets environmental sensibility.

Currently, the mosaic is composed of over 300,000 photos of the natural world, pulled from archived images by MyShot users. But the project is also an ongoing invitation for new submissions — the more images are indexed, the richer the the color sampling will be and the closer to infinity the mosaic can get.

The team at National Geographic envisions various future extensions of the project as the image catalog grows, breaking it down into mosaic representations of sub-categories like water, trees, and animals.

Besides being the socially-smartest marketing effort we’ve seen in a while, we have to respect NG’s fierce editorial curation — even user-submitted images have to live up to the same editorial standards as those in the actual publication in order to make it to MyShot, which ensures all the photographs that do make the cut for Infinite Photograph are absolutely stunning.

But be not discouraged — go ahead and submit some of your own nature-loving shots. It’s not every day you get a chance to feel closer to the planet and to your global cohabitants at the same time.

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15 APRIL, 2009

Exactitudes: Cross-Cultural Photo-Anthropology Explores the Myth of Unique Identity

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Why we aren’t nearly as unique as we think, or what twelve Japanese school children have to do with twelve homeless people in Rotterdam.

Since 1994, Dutch photographer Ari Versluis and anthropologist Ellie Uyttenbroek have been trekking the globe together, recording “exactitudes” (public library) — “exact attitudes” captured in people’s peculiar dress code as an attempt to differentiate themselves from others or identify with a group. The decades-long project is now condensed in the glorious coffee table Exactitudes, which features a selection of 60 hand-curated exactitudes. The project is a deliberate collage of contradictions — between individuality and conformity, between street style and studio setting, between self and group — that serve as invitations to question our cultural givens and our identity as unique personas.

Each “exactitude” consists of twelve distinct portraits structured in a grid. Think of it as street fashion meets cultural anthropology meets data visualization — a visceral exploration of subcultures, group identity and individualism.

French Touch - Bordeaux 2006

Pin-ups - London 2008

Backpackers - Rotterdam 2008

The series is also an ethnographic and temporal portrait of our collectively individual identity across time and space — the big bags of 2008, New York’s yupster girls, the tracksuits of Japanese schoolkids, the soccer jersey fetish of European teenage boys, even “street style” at its rawest in the face of the homeless.

Gabberbitches - Rotterdam 1996

Miss Shapes - London 2008

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01 APRIL, 2009

Photography Spotlight: The 50 States Project

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Fifty states. Fifty photographers. Six assignments. One year. Go.

That’s the basic premise of The 50 States Project, the brainchild of UK-based photographer and art photography curator Stuart Pilkington.

The year-long effort brings together 50 American photographers, each from a different state, and gives them 6 different two-month assignments throughout the year.

The project launched in January 2009 with the first assignment, “People,” followed by “Habitat” in March. The remaining 4 will be announced on May 1st,  July 1st, September 1st and November 1st of this year.

Photographs from the “People” assignment are already up, spanning the entire photography spectrum, from candid snapshots to classic portraiture to conceptual cultural commentary.

And while we wish there was a better way to browse photos within each of the assignments, we have to give it to Stuart for the brilliant idea — what better way to capture the rich character of the world’s most diverse country than through the vantage points of 50 different people situated across 50 different locales?

Keep an eye on the project for the next 5 assignments, which promise to be every bit as culturally insightful as the first.

via Photojojo