Mobile participation is driving the evolution of digital curation.
I was recently asked to be the official mobile photographer for Vivid Ideas, a part of the Vivid Sydney festival. My role at the festival is to capture and quickly share key moments and behind the scene images from the amazing talks and presentations that are being held at the Museum Of Contemporary Art and at other locations around Sydney.
My favourite panel so far has been the "GAME CHANGERS" panel which discussed the continuing impact of the internet on the creative industry. The discussion identified the exponential growth of digital media on the internet as a key development, and that this growth was changing how we interacted and experienced the online world. I’d like to expand on these points and identify why mobile consumption and participation is driving an evolution of digital curation.
The panel members were:
Keiran Ots, Creative Director, Leo Burnett
Keiren Cooney, Chief Communications Officer, National Broadband Network
Kate Armstrong Smith, Partnerships Manager, Sydney Festival
Towards the end of the discussion Kate said that now the artist is the game changer, because it is the artists who can create a personal connection, take the audience on a journey, and it is the artist who is best positioned to invite their audience to participate.
Participation has played a huge role in my own approach to mobile photography. In the mobile photography walks I led for Earth Hour Global and City of Sydney, and also the Instaburb competition I organised with Misho Baranovic the aim has always been to create both an online and offline participatory experience.
These shared experiences, along with the experience of sharing of my mobile photography online over the last four years has lead me to believe that the artist is about to enter the age of digital curation. The driving force for this change is the incredible growth in online interaction via a mobile device.
I was able to ask the members of the "GAME CHANGERS" panel (via twitter) the following:
"Why is curation not the keyword for the future?"
Digital "creation" and "consumption" dominate any discussion of digital, while the role of "curation" is rarely considered in the conversation. So, why isn't "curation" the key word for the future of digital?
The panel discussed my question, and agreed that the connectivity of the internet meant that the artist is now also the online or digital curator.
Digital curation has existed online for years, but now, with increased mobile use and reliance on smart phone technology to interact with the world, art, and its digital curation is colliding with the expanding potential of mobile user experience.
My key thoughts on this point are:
1. Digital curation is not simply collection and storing of art, it is the art of digitally connecting and communicating art to the audience.
2. The capability of the device that enables digital curation is equally as important as the art itself.
3. Digital creation has advanced enough that the reach of digitalised art is only bound by the limitations of digital curation (and the resulting consumption).
4. The growing trend for consumption (and creation) of art via mobile device, means that it is the people who create tools for mobile curation that are the game changers. Not just the artists.
These points are why I believe that mobile photography is not only about the device that creates the art, but the device that allows the curation and communication of photography.
Instagram is a excellent example of a digital curation tool. It is a streamlined mobile publishing platform that has attracted millions of mobile (and also non-mobile) photographers, to present their creation to the participating consumers. But Instagram is by no means perfect.
I have spoken to several photographers about the immediacy of mobile photography sharing. They believe that the culture of immediacy that drives mobile photography creates pressure to constantly connect and deliver artworks, and that this pressure can destroy an existing artistic process and interrupt artistic reflection.
I agree. There is a huge risk of digital distraction; even a loss of artistic integrity as audience feedback (from the digital communication process) cannot be ignored. Artists who receive positive feedback (online or offline) may cling tightly to a “liked” or “popular” approach rather than exploring the medium and breaking new ground. The addictive stream of online feedback can become more influential to an artist than the real world stimulus that would otherwise guide them in their creative process.
Although these risks exist, by engaging an online audience an artist is able to refine their ideas, concepts, processes and practices. An artist who used digital curation must understand how to manage participation, or else become a victim of its influence.
I certainly do not believe that all art can or should be digitalised, or that all artists are digital. However, artists are in some way now a part of the digital world simply because their audience is increasingly interacting with the world through a digital (mobile) device.
The importance of digital curation cannot be underestimated, as art and its curation is moving from the walls of the gallery, and into the hands of the audience, wherever and everywhere that they connect.
(An excellent write up of the event by India Brown is here: http://www.vividsydney.com/business/game-changers-at-vivid-ideas/)