Today after my visit to the MOPA exhibition (in San Diego) entitled Staking Claim: A California Invitational, a few thoughts brewed in my mind. Now it's going to take a moment for me to get to my point so please bear with me.
In my 23 years as a photographer, I've seen a lot of change. One of the big changes is that content, i.e. photography, has lost much of its value in the digital world. Instead, huge value is placed on those resources that aggregate content. Witness the rise in Google, Instagram and countless other web portals and search engines.
Case in point: A 17 year old kid can create a search engine app and sell it for $30 million to Yahoo. Meanwhile, the content being collected is valued in pennies at most. ("Sorry, we have no budget for photography, but you'll get lots of exposure.")
So back to the MOPA show. Of the 16 photographers, three were... content aggregators. One collected images from Google Street View, another collected old mug shots, and yet another collected castaway snapshots and pasted them to the wall (albeit with a large hole punched in the center). Now if just one such artist (I don't think the word photographer really applies here) were included in the show, I could accept that. But three out of 16? That's a significant chunk of some intensely valuable wall space.
Now I'm left with several questions: Is this an aberration? Is content aggregation now on par with content creation in the photographic art world? Is it fair to label these content aggregators as "photographers?" Has our digital experience inured us to the difference between the two? Is this the trend for the future?
Or am I just a curmudgeon clinging to some romanticized past?
Here's the link to the MOPA home page.