Our insatiable appetites for Social Media have made the majority of us, in a way, amateur photojournalists, doggedly capturing our daily highlights in an unending quest for whatever affirmation can be attained from stockpiling tiny, red cartoon hearts. Some actual photographers—that is, those who shoot photos for purposes other than eventually posting them to Instagram—choose to shun social media altogether, diluting themselves into thinking that imagery should forever be consumed through physical books or while hanging from the white walls of a gallery.
Local lensmen Spencer Rooney and Martin Morales, however, are venturing to adapt to changing societal mores, embracing the redeeming nature of the tangible, while recognizing the practical applications of our current digital age. On Friday May 4, Rooney and Morales will present “As of Now,” a photography exhibit that seeks to incorporate the positive aspects of our digitally connected, modern world, with the intimacy of the time-honored, in-person art opening. Aside from hanging a collection of images that Rooney says are intended to “evoke thoughts and emotion—the powerful gears that churn about in our heads,” the duo has concocted a live-critique event, in which guests will be invited to communicate about the pieces via social media.
“When I go to a museum or an art show, my conversation about the work is always confined to the group of people I’m there with. We have our private discussion, and rarely get any input beyond our group,” says Rooney, who aside from minoring in photography at UNF and shooting photos for pleasure in his spare time, has contributed to the Void Surf Report and produced the popular digital video series Chasing Tales. Both photographers contributed photos for Void Magazine’s Photo Issue in the past. “The live critique will create a completely public discussion of the work. Everyone gets to partake—if they want—in sharing their opinions of how or if the work effected them. I believe this atmosphere will be a more powerful experience. Instead of hearing one friend say, ‘I like this one,’ You will encounter what a whole crowd sees, feels, and thinks about the work.’
Although Rooney readily admits to having a “complicated relationship” with social media himself, the effort to shun the habitual Luddism of the “serious” art world is commendable, and the event, at the very least, should make for a unique experience.
“Sometimes we click, and sometimes I don’t want anything to do with it,” Rooney says of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde association to social media. “We are very critical on social media, and we may express ourselves in a less than sensitive manner compared to face-to-face interactions. This event ventures to mold the two worlds. Martin and I are allowing social media to become an actual social event. When it comes to anonymity, I encourage those of you who want to remain a shadow-dweller to make an estranged account. As long as everyone’s ideas are heard, read, or interpreted, then our event will be a success in our eyes.”
“As of Now” will kickoff at Atlantic Beach’s Hotel Palms at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 4. Tickets are $20, which includes T-shirt.