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Visual Sociology

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: July 21, 2003
Latest Update: July 21, 2003
E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Site Teaching Modules Blogs and Moblogs

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, July 2003.
"Fair use" encouraged.

This lecture is based on a post to the International Visual Sociology Association list asking what on earth "bloggers" are, and the response of another list member sending the uninitiated to Conference Panelists See Bright Future for Mobile Publishing. Now actually, we had talked about blogs on the site before. But not in quite this context. The blogs referred to on IVSA are more accurately called "moblogs," not that many people will probably know the difference. Moblogs are photos shot with mobile phones and uploaded, I guess, on the spot, so that news agencies can get them immediately on the air, and they can circulate on the Internet.

The "blogs" of our earlier discussions are simply Internet sites onto which you can upload your photos, sort of like a giant photo album all comers are welcome to browse.

From Volume 16, No. 12, May 25, 2003:

  • May 25, 2003: Prospecting for Gold Among the Photo Blogs by Sarah Boxer. New York Times. Arts and Leisure. Sunday, May 25, 2003. Backup We'll be discussing this in the Fall. It's a good source, with links to other sources, on the photography that people are posting on the net. Bits of their lives they want to share. Mundane stuff, but a search for some illocutionary understanding of local narratives. Public art? More on this soon. jeanne


    Photo by Todd Gross from May 25, 2003.
    Think you could give a sociological interpretation?

    Discussion Questions

    1. What potential do you suppose blogs and moblogs hold for citizen participation in public art?

      Consider first of all that photos straight up to the Internet is fairly new, whether the camera is connected to a mobile phone or not. So this trend is just starting. There's certainly an immediacy effect. More albums with more people seriously trying to catch aesthetic images that can be displayed on the Internet undoubtedly means one more forum for public art. As I wandered around the various blogs mentioned with URLs I found lots of fascinating shots.

      I hope we share this art without commodifying it quite as much as we have fine art. Since we all have access to the Internet, at least for a price, that means we have access to the forum. That's gotta be better than no access. And as the tools become more affordable maybe more of us will play. I find it hard to believe that "intellectual property" won't rear its ugly head as soon as these blogs go commercial into ads. But a much wider group should still have access.

    2. What potential do you suppose blogs and moblogs hold in affecting the use and display of mass media art?

      Consider the hunger of mass media for images and video bits. But consider that there might be overkill in gore. I'd like to hope that the media will find some space for the creative, unexpected shots that bring Others into focus from a whole different perspective. The kind of shots that have produced our most talented photographers of the past.

      I'd also like to hope that increasing attentiion to citizen participation in such art would lead to deeper contemplation and more discussion of our aesthetics. I have to think about this one. But as a teacher, I would love to see this happen. The media have such wonderful potential for education.

    3. What potential do you suppose blogs and moblogs hold in affecting the perspectives of galleries and museums of fine art?

      Gee, very little, I'd bet. Not that blogs and moblogs don't offer the potential, but that museums are so solidly structured into the hierarchy. In the heirearchy, which works like a tournament, we are continually moving toward the best and the mobest. Perhaps if we the ordinary folks out there begin to celebrate the potential of the blogs and moblogs, maybe the museums will open up the canon a little. Personally, I would settle for art coming closer and closer to our homes and our everyday lives.