a stroke of luck

Selfportraitr: An Interactive Exhibition Curating the Flickr Community

A while back I was approached by Stephen Jablonsky from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was looking for someone to help with a project him and and his colleague Jeremy Chien were doing for the Pace/MacGill Gallery. He had come across Flashr and some of my experiments with it and thought that I may be able to help with the project.

It turned out I could! The project became “Selfportraitr”. The idea is that through ten computers in the gallery itself and through the Pace/MacGill website people can search through the thousands of photographs on flickr tagged with “selfportrait” and can choose the ones they like best to add to the gallery’s favourites. This enables members of the public to act as curators for an exhibition in a major New York gallery. More information on the app and the background to it is available in the official press release.

You can view the exhibition online using one of two applications:
  • Viewr – this application shows a slideshow of self portrait pictures. The interactivity of this application is limited to adding passing images to the gallery favourites.
  • Selfportraitr – this is the full on application as it appears in the gallery. It was designed for display on the Apple 23″ cinema displays in the gallery at a resolution of 1920×1200 so unless you have a massive screen it may appear a bit cramped and some text may be tricky to read. But you will get to play with the full functionality of the app and hopefully find some nice photos :)

This project was featured on the flickr blog, the New York Times (registration required) and even on ABC news which is pretty cool. It also sparked some controversy on the Flickr Central discussion board although in general people seem to appreciate what it is doing.

I built the app in Flash 8 using the bleeding edge version of Flashr. As you will have seen, some of the functionality of the app is pretty advanced and creating this app led to a number of bug fixes and enhancements to the Flashr code. A good by-product of this is that now the long awaited 0.5 release is within sight. It was also interesting to collaborate internationally across time zones on a project as complex as this and all things considered it went remarkably smoothly.

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