As a visual sociologist looking at the images as to how people define “face,” “change,” and “brooklyn,” I was very impressed with the quality and array of images submitted for the Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition.
I can see that these photographers at least regard externalities as “face” as though it was “skin” surrounding some other content; e.g., there were few photos inside places and spaces. “Change” seemed to be mostly about physical structures as opposed to people and social activities. It also seemed to me that the photographers were showing something of which they didn’t approve. “Brooklyn” was represented geographically in a very limited way with a concentration on some of the most “Brooklyn-branded” of spaces such as Coney Island and Carnival. It might be also that the focus on places like Red Hook, Dumbo, and Williamsburg reflects where artists (photographers in this case) are living or hanging around. An aspect of Brooklyn’s growing “Creative Class” perhaps. Due to the choice of venues, it gave the impression that perhaps “groups” of photographers traveled to the same spots. Some of the images were almost identical—see below for three images submitted to Click! along with one of my own from a similar vantage point.
Left: Douglas Padgett. Redhook Waterfront, 2008. All rights reserved
Right: E.M. Farmer. Red Hook Wrecked, 2007. All rights reserved
Left: Maria Castanos. Red Hook, Brooklyn, 2007. All rights reserved
Right: A similar photograph I took a while back of the same subject matter.
My sociological point is (like crowd theory) that there is something “organized” (structured), predictable, understandable about what people see and how they interpret what it is they are looking at. It is a sort of common visual language which of course varies from culture to culture, education, class, etc…
As an aside, my own orientation is toward people so when evaluating Click! submissions, I gave the highest evaluations to “people images” as well as good evaluations for those not of people but with exceptional (in my estimation) artistic or documentary quality.
Jerome (Jerry) Krase is Emeritus and Murray Koppelman Professor at Brooklyn College. My sociology degrees are from Indiana U (MA) and NYU ( Ph.D). My work concerns the possibility of community in urban society and I try to combine activism and scholarship by serving as a consultant to public and private community agencies. Over the decades my interests expanded into visual studies of urban neighborhood communities of all kinds. I am on the Board of the International Visual Sociology Association and have written and photographed widely on urban life and culture. Since "early retirement" I have been even more active lecturing, researching, and exhibiting images in the US and abroad, most recently in Tirana, Albania. Published works include Self and Community in the City, Ethnicity and Machine Politics with Charles LaCerra, Race and Ethnicity in New York City and Ethnic Landscapes in an Urban World with Ray Hutchinson.