Photo Sharing with Visions and 23

In my last post, I’ve described my liking of the Visions 3-D Image Management System and its excellent features for displaying batches of photos.  The program also has great editing features as well as image creation features that allow you to create holiday cards, greetings, calenders and a variety of other neat creations.

click for larger image

click for larger image

However, it is Visions’ photo sharing feature that makes this a Web 2.0 tool for the read/write/share generation.  Visions is associated with social photo sharing web-sites Flickr and 23.  The Visions application lets you upload batches of images from your visual galleries to your on-line account with a photo sharing site.

click for larger imageHere is a screen shot of Visions uploading images to share on 23.  The next image shows the resulting 12 images uploaded to my 23 account, and now published for anyone to see [in just one click – pretty slick!].  Although Flickr is obviously the most popular photo sharing site on-line [Flickr has thousands of images uploaded every minute], I chose to use 23 as it does not require you to create a Yahoo account.  Here is a quote from the ‘About 23‘ page: “A community should be open to users of all photo sharing services and not force one to use one in particular to participate.”

My avatar in Second Life

Click the image to view images of my avatar, Rasta Telling, in a few interesting places in Second Life.

Now that I’ve created an account on 23, I’ve begun to think about educational advantages for using photo sharing web-sites.  Flickr, 23, photobucket, or many other photo sharing sites could be used by teachers or students to share galleries of images.  Perhaps my art students could use 23 to create digital portfolios of their created artworks.  I’ve liked the idea of one photo every day for quite some time.  This would be a good way for students to develop their visual skills, and their ‘camera eye’.  23 might be a good place for such projects.  Ideally, I’d like to have students share one photo every day, as well as an image of one creation every day [sketch, painting, sculpture, poem, collage, anything creative].

Gaia at Night . . . Mother is Sick

earthriseEarthrise is the name given to this photograph of the Earth taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission.  In Life‘s 100 Photographs that Changed the World, it was called “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”  Photos of the Earth from space are so striking because they show how beautiful the planet is when viewed from a distance.  Such photos of Earth allow us to view our planet as one singular system, which we are a part of.  They remind us that we only have one Earth to work with, and that we depend on it for our survival.  Against the inky blackness of space, our home appears small and fragile, a living miracle of air, water, soil, and vegetation.

Such a worldview is particularly important in light of our growing human disconnect from nature.  As our smaller worlds have become more industrial and our lives have become more dependent on technology, we have begun to lose our essential connection to the natural world of which we are a part.  Most of the human beings on this planet live in cities and a great number of us spend most of our time wrapped in technology and manufactured goods.  Although it is of course true that humans are animals, we do not often like to be reminded of it.  Indeed most of us know that we are mammals, however, we think it an insult to be called an animal, be it a pig, a dog, monkey, what have-you.  Calling someone an animal is deemed as a derogatory statement.Gaia - Embrace - Banner

Of course there are some extremely significant factors that set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.  We are after-all, or so we hope to think, the most developed communicators on the planet.  And of course we cannot overlook our mastery of tool making and technology.  However, although these factors do make us stand out from the other organisms that we share our home with, they do not separate us from nature.  We must not forget that we are nature.  This is why it is so important to spend time outdoors, in nature, and with wildlife.  This time allows us to reconnect with who we actually are.

The first photos of the Earth from space are very powerful because they remind us that our planet is alive – she is Gaia, Mother Earth, she is life – and because of her, we have life.  More recently a variety of photos [composites or collages more-so than actual photographs] have become very popular on-line.  These are the views of the Earth at night.  These assembled photos also provide us with very powerful perspectives of our home.  They allow us to visualize mankind’s extreme impact on the Earth.  From these composite images, we can clearly see densely populated areas of the Earth lit brightly.  We can clearly see the industrialized parts of the planet.  That is to say that we can see were the natural Earth has been converted into cities.  We can see where the natural Earth has been converted to man-made structures of concrete, wood, and steel.  That is to say that we can clearly see where non-renewable fossil fuels are being converted and used as electricity.  We can see where we live, and the impact we have made to our planet.

View The Earth at Night 2400x1200 NASAWhen I first looked at images of the Earth at night, I remember being struck by their power.  They are immediately grasping in their ability to communicate visually.  If we go by the old rule that every picture is worth a thousand words, then these collages of images certainly have something interesting to say.  As I have spent more time looking at these images, I am struck by the notion that the Earth looks sick.  The lights are symptoms of the spreading illness.  Man-kind’s current ways of thinking are destroying our planet.

Simulation of Earth at Night 410x410Now, this all seems very depressing, in a doom and gloom sort of manner.  There is however a positive spin that can be taken from these visuals.  That of course would be to understand the size and scope of impact that we have had in transforming our planet in such a small amount of time.  This is important only because there is still hope.  There is still time to reverse our effects.  Man-kind is not necessarily the cause of Earth’s sickness, but rather man-kind’s current ways of thinking.  We need to change the ways in which we think, consume, and pollute.  If we get the ball rolling towards new ways of thinking, we can have massive impact in very little time.  Our objective is to work towards a sustainable, healthy relationship with our home, Gaia, Mother Earth.

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UPDATE:

This post is receiving significant traffic, often in the amount of several hundred reads each week.   Do me a favour.  Just leave a quick response, and let me know who you are and how you came across this article.  I’m curious to know who’s reading.  If you’d like to share your thoughts about the article, that would be great.

Thanks for reading,

– – –
Ryan

Plastic and the Albatross

I have spent a couple of hours over the last week or two reading and viewing Chris Jordan’s video blog about his “Midway Journey.”  At www.midwayjourney.com, Chris shares photos and video clips as he journals his experience walking amid the decimation of young Albatross birds on the Midway Atoll.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Chris has some truly exceptional insight into the current state of waste on our planet.  I’m going to come right out say that this guy is a true visionary, a rare genius of visual communication.  Given that I am a teacher of visual arts, that statement is not to be taken lightly.  Chris has an ability to allow us to see realities about our world that we simply cannot (or chose not to) see.  Chris’ works encourages us to break down the barriers that exist in an age in which we are bombarded with statistics and factual information.  Chris has an exceptional ability to use a visual media to inspire change. 

The Midway Atoll is an oasis of sand, coral (and now plastic waste) in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest continent.  Chris’ new photographic work documents the decimation of thousands of baby Albatross birds that occurs each year on the Midway Atoll.  Chris explains that, “The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.”

Some may find the visuals that Chris has captured to be disturbing or disgusting.  Regardless, the images speak clearly – and very loudly – about the impact of our ways of life and mass consumption and waste.  Statistics and facts attempt to communicate that our human mass consumption is causing significant changes to our planet.  There is a plethora of information outlining that our ways of living are responsible for the destruction and extinction of exceeding species of life.  However, statistics and facts lack emotion and immediate connection to our reality.  This is where Chris’ work truly comes to life.  Chris’ images do what statistics and facts often cannot.  They make us feel our impact.  These images make these realities actually matter to us.  The message is extremely clear.

Chris Jordan – Picturing Excess

Chris Jordan is one of the most amazing visual artists working today.  If you haven’t been introduced to his photographic artwork, now is the time to become acquainted.  Check out his web-site at ChrisJordan.com.  His works are enormous, aesthetically beautiful, mind-boggling, and thought-provoking.  I was introduced to Chris’ works through a video of his presentation on TED Talks.  This may be a great starting point for anyone who is not yet familiar with what Chris is doing. 

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan

Chris puts statistics into a visual format so that we can truly understand.  Facts and statistics are often provided to inform or to educate.  However, statistics and facts are overwhelming and often completely impossible to comprehend.  A problem arises when facts contain very large numbers.  What does 1 billion actually mean?  When statistics contain gigantic numbers, they lose their meaning because it is just too difficult to comprehend how big they really are.  Chris’ work attempts to break down the barriers between the language of statistics and facts that bombard us in an age of information overload, and to allow us to find meaning. 

Chris understands that seeing is believing, and he creates a visual portrait of our world today that allows us to see and understand just how wasteful we are.  Chris has created two series of works titled Running the Numbers.  The first series is An American Self-Portrait.  His second is A Portrait of Global Mass Culture.  The works in these series show us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like.  His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.

Running the Numbers

Running the Numbers

Chris creates these enormous images in order to help us feel more as a society; in order for issues to really matter to us.  He aims to break through the anesthetizing effect that most statistics have.  His main goal is to help us to wake up from our slumbering state of mass consumption, to face the facts, and to find ways to create change.  His artworks make us confront the real issues of our time, and they make us question how we are going to create change.  Perhaps this is why I love Chris’ work so much.  I feel where Chris is coming from.   Often I feel the need to scream WAKE UP.  I feel that too many of us need to wake up and take our heads out of the sand.  It is time for us to stop pretending that there is nothing wrong with our culture of global mass consumption.  It is time for us to stop many things.  It is time for us to wake up, and to demand change, create change, and to be the change that we want to see in this world.