The core of creative work is exchange. We exchange ideas, we collaborate, we share ourselves with each other (as in photographer and subject.) A few months ago, my dear old friend T Foley (Teresa) asked me if I would contribute some content to her latest media art project Locally Toned, whereby T creates custom ringtones for cell phones by recording sounds at various locations. The idea is that people submit to her an idea for a ringtone and she executes it, making it available in downloadable format on her site. She has been given tech support on the project by local software company DeepLocal, a company which specializes in mapping software and other high tech schtuff. More can be read about Teresa's project at: http://locallytoned.wordpress.com/
My involvement was in three different capacities: first, I recommended to Teresa, as a source, my awesome chef friend Keith Fuller, from downtown Pittsburgh's Six Penn Kitchen, when she inquired with me about wanting to do a kitchen tone. The result can be heard at: http://locallytoned.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/kitchen-tones/
Secondly, I volunteered my own idea for a Buddhist monk chanting ringtone, to be recorded at the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, where I go for a weekly meditation session. That tone and story can be found at:
I had a wonderful time going out with Teresa to the temple and helping her make the recordings. It was a feeling of real connectivity between indivitual parties making a small effort to create something larger and meaningful to share with the world. I felt this type of collaboration is the essence of recent contemporary art: work that goes beyond simply an artist presenting a subject to a passive viewing audience, but rather, involves the audience in the artistic process from its origination through to its final destination.
Thirdly, Teresa asked if I would help her by making a portrait of her to be used on the promotional "business" cards she is creating to describe and seek an audience for Locally Toned. This is the third time I have photographed T, the last time being a shot with a little Hazmat cleanup action figure I bought her as a gift and that she used in her 2004 video art project Hazardous Materials. (If I remember correctly, the action figure used in the video was a humorous birthday gift I had given Teresa previously, which, if my mind is working properly here, would further extend our web of collaboration.)
Anyway, this photo is the result. And it is not a matter of Photoshopping a sky into a background of a studio image. It was made in-camera, at the Schenley golf course, on a sunny day, with a little strobe-fill. I love how surreal it looks! In the end-production of the promo cards for "Locally Toned," Teresa has added spraypaint type text that reads "Airspace = Public Property."
Teresa and I had a really fun time working on this, including dodging some golf balls on the green nearby and a follow-up dinner at Six Penn to celebrate the project and catch up on another very important creative exchange: girl talk (not the musician, see above, the conversation!)