University of Illinois at Chicago: Alkebuluan Merriweather (BA, 2019) launches Black Matriarch Archive . “Alumna Alkebuluan Merriweather (BA, 2019) has launched a digital platform titled Black Matriarch Archive. Black Matriarch Archive is a digital platform and archive that seeks to encourage members of the African diaspora to submit images and video documentation of black elders, whether they may be grandmothers, great-aunts, godmothers, or caregivers.” This is a project that uses Instagram as its platform. It’s early days.
New York Times: ‘Covid Will Not Win’: Meet the Force Powering Brooklyn Hospital. “During the surge of Covid-19 cases this spring that filled Brooklyn Hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit with the critically ill and the dying, the staff went in day after day, trying to save as many lives as they could. Now they are bracing for a second wave. These portraits of the hospital staff were taken during the grueling first wave. In interviews in recent months, the workers reflected on that period — what they had lived through and how they had coped, what they had learned and how it had changed them.”
9News (Australia): Tens of thousands of prison portraits captured in 15 jails over 50 years: Portraits of Crime now in remarkable digital archive. “Tens of thousands of prison portraits captured in 15 jails over a 50-year period are now accessible in a remarkable online database. In recent years the NSW State Archives digitised 46,000 images and collated them in an exhibition titled Captured: Portraits of Crime. Now these photographs all exist online in a searchable database.”
The Calvert Journal: Watch the birdie: how a papier-mâché horse in Tbilisi Zoo grew into a popular photo studio. “I was born in Tbilisi in the 1980s, back when the country was still a part of the Soviet Union. Visiting the zoo was a special event for me: it meant that I would get a Plombir ice cream, a cup of sparkling gazirovka (a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage), and a ride on an amusement ride adjacent to the premises. But the highlight of the day would always be getting the chance to sit on the papier-mâché horse that looked like it had galloped from a merry-go-round ride. I remember being helped onto the horse, filled with anticipation and excitement at having my photo taken, but also overcome with shyness in front of the photographer.” The author is working with the descendants of the photographer to crowdsource a collection of these images. This essay is so good. Grab a tissue and read it.
Elle: The Hauntingly Beautiful Self-Portraits Of ‘Girls Of Isolation’. “The account has nearly 10,000 followers, and more than 40 collages made up of five or six individual self-portraits in black and white, which, Gatwood says, ‘gives off this kind of intimate but also melancholy energy, which is very much what people in isolation are experiencing right now.'”
Inverse: A.I. Gahaku Turns Your Selfie Into An Oil Painting Masterwork. “Ready for your close-up? AI Gahaku is an online A.I. tool that’s going viral, promising to produce impressive selfies that make you look like an oil painting. The service promises to take images and apply one of 10 different styles, complete with museum description that makes the work seem ideal for the next gallery exhibition.”
The Guardian: Photo archive of life in apartheid-era South Africa to be auctioned. “A rare studio photo archive that shines a light on the undimmed spirit of township life in apartheid-era South Africa is to be auctioned in London. The archive contains more than 1,000 images of people posing for the camera in front of a simple parted black curtain with basic props, often a basket of plastic flowers, cheap plastic sunglasses or an unplugged telephone.”
Penn State News: Emotion expression database new resource for researchers. “The ability to understand facial expressions is an important part of social communication. However, little is known about how complex facial expression signal emotions related to social behavior and inner thoughts. To answer these questions, Penn State researchers developed the Complex Emotion Expression Database (CEED), a digital stimulus set of 243 basic and 237 complex emotional facial expressions.”
Google Blog: Annie Leibovitz unveils photo series with Google Pixel. “The individuals photographed include soccer player Megan Rapinoe, equal justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson, artist James Turrell, journalist Noor Tagouri, hip-hop activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Army Officer Sarah Zorn, global-health scientist Jack Andraka and more.”
Washington Post: How activists used photography to help end slavery. “…while social media makes this act of sharing protest imagery seem like a new innovation, it’s actually an organizing tool with roots almost two centuries old. Antebellum abolitionists pioneered the use of photography as a tool for social movements, and in the process, they heightened their sense of solidarity and urgency, exacerbating the political crisis over slavery.”
Dazed: The Instagram shining a light on trans masc history and culture. “‘Before I started this research, I could barely think of any historic or pop cultural trans masculine figures,’ admits artist and bookmaker Izzy Kroese, … While individuals like spoken word poet Kai Isaiah Jamal, artist Chella Man, and upcoming model Krow are paving the way for greater visibility, the trans masculine experience and its history are still largely absent from the media.”
I wasn’t sure where to put this. PetaPixel: This Site Ranks the Attractiveness of AI-Generated Faces. “NVIDIA’s mind-blowing AI that generates faces of people who don’t exist recently led to an unofficial website called thispersondoesnotexist.com that lets anyone generate a new random face in an instant. Creative director Mike Solomon has built upon the idea with a new website called Judge Fake People that experiments with letting the public rank the attractiveness of AI-generated faces.”
Wired: Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’ Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right?. “Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years.”
I mentioned this on RB briefly back in July, but now it’s launched! Slate: Who’s Behind That Beard?. “Together with Ron Coddington (editor of the magazine Military Images), Paul Quigley (director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies), and a group of student researchers at Virginia Tech, [Kurt] Luther crafted a free and easy-to-use website that applies facial recognition to the multitude of anonymous portraits that survive from the conflict, in the hopes of identifying the sitter.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is looking for help identifying studio portraits of African-Americans. This link goes to a Facebook post. “This exhibition presents more than one hundred and fifty studio portraits of African Americans from the mid-twentieth century. To this day, both photographers and subjects remain mostly unidentified. Does someone look familiar?”