I’d like you to be part of an experiment involving places and photos. Here's how it will work:
- You’ll pick a spot on the surface of the planet, like a street address or latitude/longitude.
- Using computers and math, I’ll find the photo I’ve taken closest to that spot, and send you a print.
- I’ll post your photo online, along with everyone else’s. Together we'll create an exhibit of photos chosen by people who have never seen them.
This project is part of Kickstarter's Make 100 initiative. There will be no more than 100 prints.
Your photo will be drawn from a pool of about 15,000 location-tagged photos that I took between 2008 and 2017, in 15 US states and in Japan, France, Vietnam, Laos, Australia, Italy, the UK, Spain, and the Czech Republic. It includes lots of New York City shots because that's where I live. More than half the photos were taken with various iPhones, the rest with actual cameras.
I take pictures of signs, streetscapes, empty lots, and anything else that makes me stop in my tracks or makes me laugh. These photos were chosen at random from those in the project set:
And here are some other photos from the project set that I like. (Note: You are not guaranteed to get a photo that I like.)
You can also check out my 'grams, but please don’t make note of their locations, because that would be cheating.
After I send out the prints I’ll post the photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons license, which means that you won’t own the photo itself — you’ll be setting it free.
Me and this project
Since the early days of digital cameras I’ve been interested in exploiting the digital-ness of digital photos and pushing them out into the world in interesting ways. In 2000 I created a site called lightningfield.com that may have been the world’s first photoblog. (A photoblog is like Instagram, only it's harder to use, your friends aren't on it, and it's owned by you, not a megacorp.) I talked about those early photos-on-the-web days in a 2011 interview.
In 2018 we all carry phones that stamp every photo with location info. When you take a photo, you’re also recording where you were at a specific moment in time. Over time this creates a pretty solid data trail. But we don't think much about that location data — in fact, most people forget it’s there (whoops).
For the sake of this project I'm treating the location data as the most important thing about a photo, perhaps more important than what’s actually in it.
I’m also leveraging some of my basic data-crunching skills to find the right photos. I’ll be sharing some info about that in the project updates.
I hope you’ll consider being part of this project.
About the prints
The prints will be from good-quality printing services and will vary in size, depending on the photo’s resolution and how much I like it. Most prints will be 8x10, though some may be smaller or bigger. Your print will come to you directly from the printing service and will not be signed. Embrace the machine.
The photo you receive will be the one I’ve algorithmically determined to be the closest to your chosen spot, with some exceptions:
— I may choose to skip over photos taken in private spaces, photos of people I know, photos that are not of places (food etc.), and photos that are blurry or otherwise messed up.
— No two prints will be the same. If the nearest photo to your spot has already been claimed, or is similar to someone else's shot, I’ll skip to the next one.
Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, John Cage, Jon Rafman, Miranda July, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing, Fred B. and other helpful Kickstarter data geeks, Nitsuh and Michal for help with a discarded video, and Fiona.
Risks and challenges
The photos are already shot, so the biggest challenge is time, which I don’t have a lot of nowadays. That’s why I’ve given myself several months to get the prints out.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)