Mar 26 2015


by Billy Kung

In 1839 when the first daguerreotype was publicly unveiled as the first efficient method to create lasting still pictures, the debate of whether photography should be regarded as an art form or mere documentation began almost simultaneously. The impact of the birth of photography on the careers and livelihood of illustrators and painters was dramatic. Back then, the camera was often viewed as a mechanical device or just a passing fancy, rather than an artist’s tool.

Today, with the advent of digital photography, and the recent exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) titled “#MobilePhotoNow”, it has almost inadvertently ended the debate altogether. Partnering with Josh Johnson and Kevin Kuster and their online Instagram community #JJ, one of the largest photo communities on the social media platform, “#Mobile Photo Now” drew over 5,000 photographers from 89 different countries to submit nearly 45,000 images via Instagram. The resulting exhibit co-curated by CMA and #JJ features 320 photos from 240 photographers representing nearly 40 different countries.

Ten years ago, who would have thought photographs taken with a mobile phone camera would one day be viewed as art objects in a museum? The advancement in mobile phone digital camera technology is moving so quickly that it is hard to keep up. Along with social media platforms that facilitate this insatiable appetite to communicate, it comes to no surprise that this outpouring of creativity in “mobile photographs” is only just the start of an exciting journey into the visual arts.

ERIC WARD. @Littlecoal. Toledo, Ohio. Category: Community. Copyright the artist.
ERIC WARD. @Littlecoal. Toledo, Ohio. Category: Community. Copyright the artist.

Billy Kung is photo editor at ArtAsiaPacific.