Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Gathering for iAMDA’s Mobile Art Conference, NYC

Posted on | October 27, 2010 | No Comments

“Is that a studio in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”


That was the motto/theme of the concluding event of the iAMDA MobileCon 2010 NYMobile Art Conference in New York City that ended in a Soho gallery with wall displays and an interactive exhibition featuring artistic work done on Androids, iPads, iPhones and other mobile devices.

Well, I'm still happy to see you!

Dozens of artists from all over the world had been collaborating and sharing their creations on Facebook, Flickr and other social media in anticipation of the event organized by David Scott Leibowitz and others. This group, that included fine artists, illustrators, and photographers, came together on the weekend ending October 24th, 2010 to explore, share and celebrate the creative capabilities of these new devices.

I was struck by David’s explanation of how important social media was to the organization and success of the conference. Flickr and other photo-sharing sites like Fotki provide a unique environment for creating interaction and building a community. They provide the “long tail” storage and distribution system that makes storing and sharing unique photos economical. Captioning and photo annotation engage other visitors when participants add metatags and comments to each other’s content. Flickr benefits from the user created content and the new visitors and potential subscribers it brings in.

As Amy Shuen explains, Flickr creates user value by opening up content for large numbers of users, by building contexts for user interaction, and through creating better search options through user-generated meta information such as tag clouds and notes. In her Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide, she explains how users gather around common interests that amplify group social network effects and how users bring other users, creating what is known as the viral effect. The conference drew on this collective user value to create a community of shared interest with enough momentum to gather together at New York University for their conference.

Artists do what they always do, they take the newest materials and techniques and stretch the limits of representation and meaning. In the end, while I enjoyed the art that had been transferred from individual devices to the exhibit’s walls and projected displays, I also marveled at the creation of a global community of artists exploring the realms of these new mobile devices with the creative and collaborative technologies of social media.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media and the political economy of international communications.


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