13 May – 14 June 2011 at Upstairs at the Bluecoat, Liverpool ‘REZZ’ by Peter Carr.
This exhibition is part of the Look11 international photography festival in Liverpool.
Rezz: The process of digitising someone into the virtual world from the real world. (Tron)
Rezz is an interactive photography project discussing the ways in which we interact both online and offline. It asks the question whether social media helps or hinders our ability to interact with each other.
The project achieves this through the use of portraits of random strangers taken on the streets of Liverpool. These portraits are embedded in the real world and the virtual world for people to discover and interact with through a use of the location app Gowalla.
These portraits have been taken in a similar way to how we interact online. We see someone interesting on Twitter or Facebook and then start talking to them. However you probably would not do this in the real world. As a photographer I have a reason to go up to strangers and say hello. It is simply that I would like to take their portrait because I find them interesting. In a way it is no different to following someone on Twitter.
The portraits are all taken with the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone. Afterwards they are uploaded to the location based social media app Gowalla. Gowalla then sends out a link to all my friends on Twitter and Facebook. This lets the virtual world say hello to someone I’ve just met in the real world. Cross medium social networking.
The use of Gowalla is integral to this project. By using this app anyone can physically visit the location of the portrait. They can live and breath the location of the portrait. This adds such a dimension to the portrait that wouldn’t be possible with a normal photography exhibition. It also means that anyone with the app can discover the project. You don’t have to be interested in photography. It will simply show up when you are near it. This makes the project incredibly accessible as it is live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There will also be a set of portraits exhibited in the Bluecoat in Liverpool. These are so people can meet these people in the real world instead of the virtual. Each photograph has a QR code printed on it. You can scan this code and it will take you to the corresponding page on the Rezz website. From there you will find a map which will allow you to go out into the city to find the spot the portrait was taken.
Once someone has found a ‘Rezz’ spot in Gowalla and visited it the project invites them to submit a photograph of their own. Anyone whose phone is capable of running Gowalla is also capable of taking a photograph. They have the same phone and technology that I had when setting the project up. There is nothing to stop them going up to someone and asking to take their photograph, nothing except potential social issues. In doing this they are literally put into my shoes in a way that normal photography exhibitions cannot do. They may feel the same fears that I did in going up to a stranger and asking to take their photo. It isn’t easy going up to a stranger and asking to take their portrait, but it is easy to say hello to a stranger on Twitter. The project allows people to experience these issues first hand and think about them.
I am a shy person, a geek who finds it easier to communicate and interact with people online. However I am also a photographer. When put behind the camera I find my shyness is more manageable. Photography gives me a reason to talk to anyone I want, to meet new and interesting people on the street. I hope that this project allows others to experience this.