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February 28 2011

21:11

What we’re watching: picturing mercy, breaking down remixes, and garage fighting with keyboards (really)

You bulked up your movie-watching to prepare for the Oscars, and now they’re over. What next? If you’re pining for some new things to see, we’ve got some options for you. And for better or worse, none of them involve Kirk Douglas.

Afghanistan, February 2011,” assembled by Alan Taylor at The Atlantic (who previously founded The Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture”). If you aren’t a regular visitor to Taylor’s curation of images at “In Focus,” you should be. These particular photos display the range of beauty, play, suffering and violence that make up everyday life for the people of Afghanistan and the soldiers stationed there.

See “What Does Mercy Look Like?” over at The New York Times’ Lens blog. It’s a post about “The Mercy Project/Inochi,” a project curated by James Whitlow Delano.  Also: check out the amazing Alessandra Sanguinetti image in this earlier Lens post. (It’s the color image halfway down the post.)

Uppercut” by California Is a Place continues Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s run of disturbing, intimate and strange stories. This time out, they paint a portrait of a “Gentlemen’s Fighting Club,” where office geeks and martial artists battle for one-minute rounds in a suburban garage, using everything from bare fists to chairs – and yes, even computer keyboards. “I do it for the hugs,” says one competitor.

Everything Is a Remix” from Kirby Ferguson at Goodiebag.tv (via @MediaStorm). In his two-part (so far) video production, Ferguson looks at how ideas and images are swiped and retooled in film and music. The movie clips come from fictional films, but Ferguson provides a true and entertaining account of the history of cultural “borrowing.”

Image from photo gallery of “Uppercut” by California Is a Place.

January 18 2011

15:30

Alan Taylor brings his “Big Picture” prowess to The Atlantic

Starting in February, The Atlantic will have a new section on its website: In Focus, a photography blog featuring “photo essays on the major news and trends of the day.”

Editing the site will be Alan Taylor, who’s moving to the magazine from the Boston Globe, where, for the past two-and-a-half years, he edited Boston.com’s celebrated photo-essay feature, The Big Picture. The Globe is maintaining The Big Picture as a blog and an iPad/iPhone app — and retaining the name, too — but Taylor’s departure is still a big loss. He’d built up The Big Picture into both a web property with 8 million pageviews a month and an app that, with its lush images, is often cited as one of the most logical-for-tablets apps out there. The move is a big gain for The Atlantic, though, which is becoming known for its inspired hiring choices.

I spoke with Taylor to find out more about what In Focus will look like.

“I have a lot of plans, some small, some big,” he told me. One of the broadest goals will be expanding the format — “not necessarily many more pictures, or pictures that are much more gigantic” (though, hey, a Bigger Picture could be awesome and fitting for the times), “but just kind of going to the next level with it.”

One of the most notable things that next level may include is more user involvement. At the Globe, Taylor got to do some experiments with user-generated content, he notes, “and that worked really, really well. And I’d like to not only do similar things to that, but even more so.” In Focus might also involve more interaction with photographers and agencies — and, in general, “things that take time to get out and do and integrate and build.”

And that time will be key. At the Globe, Taylor’s job has been to be both a web developer and The Big Picture’s editor. “Part of the agreement to let me run the Big Picture was that I kept doing the other web development that needed to be done,” he noted in a blog post. “I agreed to that arrangement, and tried my best to make it work, but in the end, it was often unworkable — one or the other job would suffer when there were crunch times.”

Now, come February, the single photography feature will be Taylor’s, er, focus. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done professionally,” he says. “And it’s become clear to me that it’s something I want to do for years to come.”

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