Monday, June 28, 2010

who do I say that I am?

One of the properties of Flickr that I really like is that there are sometimes subtle variations on the information provided, and because storage is not as much of an issue as it may be in some other archives, they are all accessible. For instance, a search for a famous building that many people have visited might yield pictures from all angles, at all times of day, giving a much more complete view than the 'just enough' information that an encyclopedia might provide.

Having done a few searches to feel out what kinds of photos I was likely to run into, I decided to turn my subject in a different direction. I wanted to explore Flickr, but also photography itself as a way to encode information. To do this, I typed in some search terms for abstract nouns like loneliness. I typed in 'self-esteem' and found that the results were about many of the various ways of interpreting the term. Some were frustratingly literal, like the picture of an iphone playing "self-esteem" by Offspring. Then there were pictures of people exploring their levels of self-esteem through writing or quotes combined with images. All in all, I found that the results, though peppered with whimsy and kitty-cats, were getting me down a bit so I switched gears.

When I searched for "identity" I got some very interesting results but they were much to wide open, similar to the previous search. I realized I needed to clarify my search. I was looking for photos of people that communicated a sense of self, something that in someway gave the sense of self-definition. This was very different than the photos that explored the question of identity or were about corporate branding. As a side note, I did find this interesting comment attached to a photo: " I got a formspring today from someone telling me they had found a blog of somebody impersonating me. I've had people use photos without permission before, but this took it to a whole new level. There is literally somebody pretending to be me while stealing my photos and posting them on their blog."

In terms of searching for information, I think I bit off a little too much for this assignment since the search results could probably not be replicated because my decision to include a photo in the folio or not rested largely on my "I'll know it when I see it" approach. I tried looking at the tags from the photos whose inclusion was the most certain, but other tags were mostly literal tags that objectively described the photo, like 'shoes', 'beach' or what kind of camera was used. I needed to rely on the descriptions and comments to determine the context, so I could include the photos that stated an identity, rather than just the concept of identity. After considering my results, and seeing how dependent they were on their context, it seems like I was doing more of a 'knowledge search' than and 'information search'.

View the gallery.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really great idea.
    I like that you are searching for an emotional state, rather than something more factual.

    That seems, to me at least, to be what most socially based media outlets are about: How do you portray yourself to others?

    I am interested to try out some similar searches and see how they compare.