Wendy Levy Reflects on the PhotoEx Digital Communities Lab

We’re gearing up for the second annual Photography, Expanded Symposium on October 18 at The New School. We hope you’ll join us in hearing from representatives of The Guardian, TIME, Instagram, Purpose and many more on the future of editorial and digital strategies for human rights campaigns.

Photographers and filmmakers talk art, activism and audience at the Paley Center for Media

Creative Innovation and Digital Community: Art & Media on the Brink of Change Panel Discussion

“On Friday, June 20 at the Paley Center for Media, Magnum Foundation hosted a free public panel discussion that was part of Photography, Expanded  - an ongoing initiative designed to inspire documentary photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image.

The goal of the panel was to begin discussion about the power and challenge of open collaboration – between creative practitioners across disciplines, with NGOs and activists, with global communities fluent in social technologies, and with subjects in varying degrees of risk, transition, and need.

I was lucky enough to moderate an incredible group – Michael Premo, Nina Berman, Joslyn Barnes, Hank Willis Thomas and Pamela Yates. They represented the tribe of documentary filmmakers and photographers who do human rights and crisis work and have experienced drastic shifts in a web 3.0 world.  As audiences increasingly expect connection, transparency, and the opportunity to take action when inspired by stories and works of visual art, how should filmmakers and photographers - and in fact any artist – recalibrate their practice to adjust to the new normal? Do we share a heightened responsibility to explicitly empower an audience beyond the image? What does this kind of collaboration look and feel like?

During the panel, we attempted to engage our own audience of about 140 people at the Paley Center in a fully interactive discussion  - and thanks to Hank Willis Thomas – we got them taking pictures with us as well. In a world where technology and surveillance are intertwined, and civil wars and human rights abuses are captured on cell phones, and news comes in bytes and tweets, the question of how we should create documentaries and other artworks that consider participation at the core was on everyone’s minds. The audience joined us for a dynamic 2-hour discussion that carried across the street to the bar at the Bombay Palace till way after closing time.”

- Wendy Levy, New Arts Axis

Check out video of the panel discussion here.

Simone Salvo