August 9, 2007

Controverse about Flickr

An interesting and controversial article (check the comments, love and hate all together) by Alec Soth via Conscientious by JM Colberg :

“ I went on to Flickr and it was just thousands of pieces of shit, and I just couldn’t believe it. And it’s just all conventional, it’s all cliches, it’s just one visual convention after another.” Shephen Shore
Stephen Shore’s reaction to Flickr is understandable. The most popular groups like Catchy Colors (36,091 members) or Reflections (14,350 members) are brutal. I can’t say I even liked Squared Circle (5,188 members).
My guess is that the best photography on Flickr is hard to find. Good photography is rarely popular. I’m reminded of Bill Jay’s essay on photographic fame :
" I think we can agree that any definition of fame would include such phrases as “popular acclaim,” “known far and wide,” “public estimation and regard,” “household name,” and similar tributes. Now lay back and concentrate. Name an active living artist-photographer who is famous. . . . . . . (The dots represent time passing. Go ahead, think about it for as long as you like.) Ready now ? Good. Who did you come up with ? Joel-Peter Witkin. Robert Mapplethorpe. Annie Leibowitz. Sally Mann. Who ? Never mind – we have enough names for our purpose.
The next question is : how many people in the USA have heard of any one of these names ? As I cannot hear you I will answer the question myself. Probably one thousand at any one time. More ? OK, let us up the figure to five thousand although I think that is stretching it. Here is the first conclusion : in a nation of 260 million even the higher figure does not represent “public acclaim” ; it means that the name is recognized by only five persons in a quarter of a million. Now, compare. When a minor television sit-com actress of dubious talent declared her lesbianism she inundated every major news outlet for weeks, including the cover of Time plus seven inside pages, and her coming-out episode was watched by everyone in the universe except me. That is fame."
So forget about fame and membership stats. Tell me, where are the great pictures on Flickr ?"

Yeah. Some good shots, some bad, that's life. Rare people will become photographers, with all the aleas of the artist's condition, and the majority of them will go on to post their family cliches, kittens, babies, favorites places and so on... But I always found on Flickr many photographies that deserve a look. So... The only true reason I could boycott this community is because Yahoo is cooperating with the chinese censors. But it's not easy to conquest the planet and make money keeping the pants on.

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