Artists, we’re all magpies really…
As artist we’re always trying to find new ways of working with what’s already in front of us, how can we use it differently? Better? Turn it on its head and find a brand new way?
Social media is providing many ways for artists to reach out make new connections, subvert and create. There’s a whole host of ways to use twitter, facebook, tumblr, wordpress, pinterest to get a project off the ground and reach a wider participatory audience.
MOMA recently hosted a live curator tour of their Talk to Me exhibition using the web application Livestream available direct on their own site or on facebook. At 11:00 am US time we downed tools and watched the tour live on facebook in the QUAD office, tweeting questions and having them answered in real time. This was very exciting and I’ve discussed introducing this at QUAD with our technical manager, but apparently its a real bandwidth killer and I’d have to get all the staff and customers to agree not to use the internet for an hour or two… which could prove tricky…
Tumblr has been a real game-changer for me, I decided to get a personal tumblog during the Christmas break, just to try it out and see what it does. We discovered during project planning for Mapping Nottinghamshire that it could be a brilliant participatory tool due to its multi-author-able blogs with submission forms. See our Mapping Notts project tumblr for an example:
For this project we’ve created our own tags for participants to click, and the beauty of tumblr is that participants need not have an account to submit their photo, text, video, sound, quote, (you can set it for all of those submissions or just one) The uploaded submission is held on tumblr for project moderator approval before publishing, making the project very safe. The only downside for us, is that the emails of submitters are not stored so we have to track these ourselves, and that the text space is optional. The extra joy of tumblr (like many other blogging platforms) is that it auto-tweets and facebooks any new post…. which can be a lifesaver on a busy project.
Tumblr has been so useful that I’ve encouraged, nagged and cajoled QUAD’s programme team into all getting personal accounts so that we can run shared project blogs. It wasn’t that that team were against taking part, just that many were worried about the time required to keep it up to date, a completely understandable worry as twitter and facebook do require time and energy to keep its audience engaged. The joy of tumblr (and other free blogs) is that its so easy to engage with, all staff have to do is take a photograph/s from a participatory activity or event on their phone, and email the photo to a unique email address. Add a line of text in the subject line before it sends and voilà! Its blogged! (There are a myriad of other ways to upload too)
Have a look at our staff tumblog of Derby Soap Opera Mass Participation project. 8 members of staff and 2 artists are admins, providing us with a constant update of information, which then auto tweets and facebook updates. We’re finding it so useful that we’ve also got a QUAD Participate tumblr too!
It’s been a really great learning curve for all of us trying out these different free tools, its hard when your in the midst of a project to keep up to date with documenting it (part of the reason that participation in the arts goes under noticed). Tools like tumblr can really help with this, often the photos we are uploading are from mobiles, so not the best quality, but it captures the moment and coveys the project message and vibe. Providing a roundness to the professional photos that underpin project documentation, but budget doesn’t always allow for.
I’m sure there are many other free tools to play without there, I’ll keep trying them and posting them on here… I haven’t event discussed the joys of hootsuite yet…