While Birmingham may criminally not have a photography museum or gallery of great substance we do, as of today, have a stupidly large and ambitious online photography project run, I’m pleased to say, by people who actually understand how these things should work.
On the face of it The Big Picture is one of those juggernaut public service projects that try to cast as wide a net as possible over society in the hope of drawing some kind of representation of it – “The Nation’s Favourite X, Y or Z”. Or, because of it’s size, fails to see the details. This one, hopefully, should avoid that.
The aim is pretty simple. To get 100,000 to be added to a giant mosaic representing the West Midlands. The key is they have to be submitted. And that’s about it. This ever growing pool of photos then forms the basis for all manner of events but, crucially, also provides a new layer of connectivity for people.
The centre of the project is photo-sharing site Flickr. There’s a Big Picture group but you can add your photos by simply tagging them bigpicture2008, or if you’re not using Flickr, directly through the Big Picture site. And, thanks to the glory of Web 2.0, the data that surrounds these photos can be used all over the place. You’ll see examples on the Big Picture site but where it’ll get interesting is when others start taking this stuff and playing with it themselves.
So while the 100,000 photo mosaic might be cool, that’s just an excuse to develop a massive library of photos of the West Midlands, built by the people who live there, for anyone to create new works with. Nice.