The 50 States Project has brought together 50 photographers from across the USA. Each photographer lives in one of the 50 States and during the year long project each photographer will represent the State where they currently live. Every two months each photographer will be sent an assignment by e-mail, they then have two months to produce one image in response. The images must represent both their style and their State. http://www.50statesproject.net/
The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks
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Bloghopping, by Matthias Groll. From private diaries to citizens’ journalism, blogs have long since been vying with the traditional media. These collections of log-book-like records, originally called web logs, have engendered the new Internet reality of the blogosphere, where photographers too can excite the whole world in a few easy steps.
Photoblogs only emerged at the beginning of this decade. With the project SnapCity.com, Emilie Valentine from San Francisco pioneered the movement before people even knew what blogs were. Rion Nakaya’s photographic diary collection on the Internet was also a trailblazer. Alec Soth launched one of the world’s most popular photoblogs, Hugh Crawford is continuing the Polaroid photo-archive PhotooftheDay in blog form, JmColberg.com has been commentating on events in the world of photography since 2002, David Glenn Rinehart pairs the archive of his cheerful creativity with a blog, Grapf is at the forefront of the German photoblog scene, and Issamichuzi.blogspot.com was the first photoblog in Tanzania in 2005. Thanks to simple content management systems, private creativity can be transferred without much ado to the virtual public domain: sometimes individualists appear with universal names like Photo-Passion or AktuelleKamera; with the self-assurance of a veritable magazine, they vouch for cities (NewYorkphotoblog.com), countries (MexicanPictures, Thaiphotoblogs), indeed for the whole world (Worldphotoblog). Coolphotoblogs provides what is surely the best overview of photoblogs worldwide, Photoblogs compiles hit parades, and Ffffound is a collective playground for various art genres, while Photorama and Photoblog-Community have attractive user-generated blog-charts.
The individual collections let outsiders in on private points of view. DurhamTownship, for example, takes us through neighborhoods in Pennsylvania, SatansLaundromat reports from the wild side of New York, LifegoesoninTehran proffers a view of life in Teheran, Zueck.wordpress.com reports on experiences in Pakistan, and Topleftpixel blogs “The daily dose of Imagery.” Spy and Mark Jenkins document street art, Streetsy and Ekosystem network street-art scenes, and Londonshopfronts.tumblr.com collects all sorts of odd-looking shop fronts. When it comes to erotic art photographs aFuckaDay.blogspot.com, Thachipsta.blogspot.com, BizarreLover.wordpress.com you are sometimes first asked to give your age. Iheartphotograph.blogspot.com breaks all records in tagging and down scrolling, DeceptiveMedia.co.uk runs both a blog and a photoblog, Terraspirit operates with minimalist navigation, Fotoblog.Viktor-Dite is a technical advisor, J-Roumagnac has brilliant optimized search options, and IndiaDailyPhoto and Iso200 blog as a team. Marta sends greetings from Spain, Pooyan.aminus3 from Iran and Mute.Rigent from Canada.
The photoblog tools present the images in a strictly uniform way: often the image is so large, it looks as if it’s about to burst the bonds of the monitor; and the image at the top is not necessarily the best, but it is certainly the very latest. To get to other images, you have to find the continue button, which as a rule takes you to the left. Photoblog providers seem to be of the opinion that history is oriented to the left, which is astonishing given that on the Internet things normally continue to the right. Right is hope. But blogs are not search machines, they are surprise packages. How many images are still to come? Will I be chased into the dead end of infinity? And where should I begin in the archive? In 2006? In June? Tags provide structural support only to a certain extent, and navigation can get lost in the random. Only control-freak-ministers of the interior, historians or devotees of the particular artist would take the trouble to go through everything that has been hoarded.
What about clearing up a bit and singling out the best entries!? But wait: What right have you know-alls to grouse about my diary! Blogs are not for public orientation, they are private playgrounds. What is reported today gets shifted into the archive tomorrow to make space for new things. Like everything else that happens. The latest item is the starter drug for visitors: as soon as they come back, the authentic chronology makes them witnesses of all that is contemporary. If the blogger has the home advantage of having been there from the start, then step by step he leads his followers farther and farther into his world. Then the start page is not the end of a story but the beginning of a friendship.
Focused as they are on the topical, individual edited blogs adhere to the everyday practice of journalism. Compared to newspapers and other media, however, the blog magazines, called blogzines, are much more personal in tone, can publish at any time and are free of hierarchies: PhotoBookGuide reviews international publications on photography, DariusHimes navigates through international publishing world, and blog.SonicSites discusses European and American photography. Photoappar.at links the German photoblog scene, PoliticsTheoryPhotography.blogspot is a treasure trove of visual arts criticism, and Russos.livejournal won the 2008 Best of Blogs Award for its Russian urban landscapes.
And the traditional media are becoming excited about all that is subversively individual: this is where you can show a human face and report on trivia that would otherwise be taboo on the cover pages. Magnumphotos comments on its business successes, Chromasia turns the blog into a shop, and The British Journal of Photography blogs well beyond the scope of the magazine. But when, for example, the blogzine Lensculture provides inspiring reports on “photography and shared territories,” but nowhere mentions the editor’s name nor place of residence or work, then oddly enough, the virtual loses its link to reality: blogs characteristically lack an impressum and a profile. When you try to contact them, usually hideous forms appear on screen, telephone numbers have more or less died out, and commentaries can only be left after you have registered.
On the other hand, this game of hide-and-seek seems to be the great attraction: private blogs initially serve the purposes of self-reflection. Interestingly enough, the artist JeffreyLadd makes no reference to his book review blog, 5b4.blogspot.com, one of the most comprehensive of its kind on the Web. Earth-Photography can also not be found from the start page. The strategies for attracting attention and for PR are both subversive and complex: blogs are publicized by means of viral recommendations; feeds, widgets, permalinks and RSS interconnect the blogosphere internally, while the activism in communities like Facebook or Delicious guarantees external contacts; communicating in real-time forums, known as microblogging, widens your circle of friends. Photographs, columns and songs, indeed anything that can be linked, is not parked in tools like Twitter but shot out directly into the world. Short is the maxim; snacks are what are served. Messages of 140 characters are written into a global ticker and can be selected according to personal specifications. The blogzine Flakphoto, which introduces unusual internet-affine photography projects, twitters, as does Barcelonaphotoblog.blogspot.com. And among the only six million users worldwide so far there are surely many photographers meeting to exchange views under a pseudonym.
Microblogging is like a parody of blogging, as all the messages race into the great ticker-hereafter. The new miracles of Web 2.0 accelerate everything and make even the most silent images scream. But when communication is utilized in an inflationary manner as a weapon to garner momentary attention, when the commentaries in the photoblogs are just well-intentioned nothings, then the effort involved and the inspiring use are possibly out of sync: the photoblog Weeklyshot was discontinued, as were the PhotoblogsMagazine and DigitalAfrica.blogspot.com. Alec Soth’s legendary blog also went silent; “I needed to get out of the loop,” he said. Blogging requires time, its exhibitionistic delight, like an addiction, can put you under pressure and lead into the vacuum of arbitrariness, somewhere between a topicality logjam and composting. Texts and images are dispatched to the entropic shredder of indifference. With a view to communicative sustainability, to what is essential, the tool structures should be optimized so to combat the delusion of topicality. After a session of photoblog hopping it’s a relief to hit on a classical website, where the portfolios are properly structured and the artist’s signature is perceptible. As it is, successful photographers seldom indulge in blogging. Published in European Photography 84, Winter 2008/2009. German version available.