I’ve been really looking forward to the SENT phonecam art show. I’ve been keeping an eye out for it since my first post about it in November of last year. Now it’s up and live, including a page that displays random images from those submitted by the public. Images are supposed to be submitted by mailing to submit at sentonline dot com. None of them have shown up on the random images page as far as I can tell. And it’s been three days since I sent the first one in. Either I’m doing something wrong (although I’ve verified the address a few times, and sent images to my own mail accounts to make sure everything is working), there’s something wrong with the mail processing on their side, or the images take a really long time to appear. I might email someone to find out what’s up, but probably not.
The tone of the show overall doesn’t match up with what I was expecting. The project overview page says:
We’ll explore the camera phone’s potential as a creative tool in two ways: through an online public dialogue in which amateur photographers and phonecam users around the world share mobile snapshots of their lives; and through an invitational exhibit in which professional photographers, artists, and public figures test the limits of creative possibilities offered by these hybrid devices.
But right now it’s just a page with a random image displayed each time you refresh it. While technically it is a shared space that could be used to facilitate a dialog, you could say the same thing about a brick wall and a couple of cans of spraypaint. For me the appeal of mobile technology has been connection, something I assumed would be pretty common. I like having these capabilities in my cell phone because they keep me in touch with the people I want to stay close to. But the couple of photos I have sent have gotten flung off in to the great technical void. Very isolating. However, even if they made it up there, I would have no idea at all what people might like to say about them. Do I really want to fling bits of my life into the random photography frappe that’s up there now? On the one hand I’m joining into a communal process of creation, but on the other hand it’s a community which strips identity and the ability to continue communication. The images might as well come from anywhere. There’s no harnessing of the mobile part of the phonecam to continue communication in the form of an always on dialog. This could be a digital art show using digital cams and email without being phonecams. I was hoping to see some aspects which called out the unique capabilities of image sensors plus a communications channel, and I’m just not seeing that now.