It’s called the Big Picture 2008 and the technical jiggery pokery linking google maps, flickr and the site is dead clever.
So what’s it for? Well on the face it this is an attempt to create the world’s biggest photo montage – to pull together images from across the wider West Midlands to create one huge mash-up of what and where we are as a region. 100,000 pictures and 100,000 record breakers.
“We are painting a picture of a region full of life, humour, vitality and beauty – a really fitting picture of the West Midlands and the people in it.”
Why would we want to do that? That’s the important question.
The motivation behind this is not simply art work. My understanding is that the “big picture” part of The Big Picture is public involvement in art. Thanks to mobile phones and low cost digital cameras, photography is one of the most accessible forms of permanent art (I’d say singing is more widely accessible and colouring-in is under estimated as an art form).
So the aim is to seduce more of us into creating art and, through prizes and events, experiencing art. That’s partly why the site is also curious about who we are. The people behind it need to find out whether they’ve made an impact.
But the questionnaire that appears as you are using the site has mithered one enthusiast. Simon Hammond posted that “as I work through age, ethnicity and disability status I’m feeling myself shrinking to a data point for someone else’s ends.”
At a time when publicly held data is being liberally scattered around the planet on lost laptops and misplaced disks people are growing impatient with data gathering.
Perhaps it would be wise to use some of the elegant about space to not only say how you can use the site, but to share some of the motivation behind the site. When I know why you want my data, I can make a better decision about what I want to share.
Statement of interests: When reading this you might like to know that at the moment I’m doing some work for Audiences Central and one of the key people behind the project, Jon Bounds, also works closely with me on this site, Upyerbrum and other projects. I’ve also recently worked for the Arts Council in the West Midlands, oh and I used to work for the BBC.