Just as the year ends, I’m nostalgic for the summer’s Biennial, a feeling helped along by these photos by someone called Andrew Mason which have been posted at flickr. Mixed within the beer and icecream are some excellent shots of Peter Johansson’s ‘Musical Royale’ or ‘the red house at the Pier Head which plays Abba four hours on end’. It’s quite shocking to see it in context, clashing marvellously with the grey of the Liver Buildings in the background.
For the unintiated, flickr is an online photo sharing and management system. It offers the facility for anyone, bloggers or amateur or professional photographers to share their pictures online in one place with minimum of fuss. Collections are usually organised under user profiles and or collective user groups. The more useful and interesting method is using ‘tags’, keywords which describe whatever’s in the photo. That way if someone wants to see lots of pictures of snowmen, they can search under that tag and a page will appear filled with carrot noses and stone eyes.
One of the most frequently used tags is based on geographic location which is how I found Andrew’s work. As you would imagine, the Liverpool collection features many pictures of tourist sites (lots of Beatles) but offers a unique way of seeing how visitors actually view the city — what they find the most appealing. A user called binarydreams spent some time at St Luke’s Church and gave it marvellously gothic angles. But local people are also presenting their own view of the city. I took some pictures of the snow on Christmas Day then rushed to post them on flickr only to find someone else had been having the same idea.
Although the site is only in its opening stages, it’s already attracted thousands of users and has come to the attention of Google and it’s thought that they will be putting a bid in to buy the company in the new year. As the user base grows, newer applications are developing, with small communities sprouting under tags and groups so that people with a particular interest can share their pictures and knowledge (via message boards and the ability to comment on the pictures). There is already the start of a Liverpool group (spectacular picture of the Williamson Square fountain included). With understandable worries to do with copyright and someone well, stealing the images there still wouldn’t be anything to stop an artist from posting their work here if they didn’t want mess about with coding their own website and I’ve seen professional photographer’s entire portfolios on as well. I would love to see what something which brings together the work of Liverpool artists might look like.
The best way I’ve found to experience all this is via a RSS feed using a news aggregator (I use Bloglines but there are others). That way as new photos are uploaded to flickr they appear in the reader as a steady stream almost like someone showing you their holiday photos. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing, but it’s a chance to see what other people have been up to in the city.