April 19, 2010

See, Read and Participate: The New BAG

Obama Bloomberg Tim Fadek

Welcome to the new BAG.

After nine years, morphing from a political cartoon to a respected voice of visual analysis, we now have a new home and an expanded mission. As I wrote last week while we were still “on the other side,” we have a lot in store for you.

Our interest in “reading the pictures” and revealing layers of political and social meaning remains stronger — and now, broader — than ever.

I’ll be anchoring the Notes blog while sharing the space with … acclaimed photojournalist Chris Hondros conducting exclusive interviews; leading visual academics Bob Hariman and John Lucaites deconstructing visual culture; Pete Brook, illuminating the prison industrial complex; former White House photographer, Stephen Ferry, on media’s pictorial stereotyping of the third world; visual activist, Stan Banos; and thoughtful insight from Salon moderator and visual rhetorician, Cara Finnegan.

As for photojournalism, Alan Chin, the editor of Originals, explains his agenda in this inaugural BNO post and slide show.

We have many fine photographers contributing imagery and stories — several which will be ongoing. We have a powerful lineup showcasing the BAG’s distinguished contributor, Nina Berman, fresh off her Whitney Biennial success; World Press and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Suau on the economy; Erin Treib on the war and its warriors; Jason Andrew on the road with the Tea Party; Mario Tama tracking New Orleans; and much, much more.

And then, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the Salon section managed by the talented photographer and multimedia producer, Sandra Roa, formerly of the NYT Lens Blog. Salon will mix audio slideshows and live chats, all focusing on key visual themes of the day. This Tuesday, we kick off with a new feature, Visual Pictures of the Week. And on Thursday, we are proud to present an audio slide show featuring Ashley Gilbertson’s new work on the bedroom shrines of fallen US soldiers.

A few notes about the site design: Because our unique mission is to study and read the pictures, we have done our best to put the pictures as forward as possible, even having them stand alone at points. We also have emphasized the discussion, feeling, as always, that your thoughts represents the heart of the site.

And a comment about the photo: To me, it’s simultaneously about visual politics and the process of making political and cultural images. We see the new BAG as representing that marriage. And then, it’s no accident I chose a picture showcasing a friend and sometimes-contributor, Tim Fadek, practicing his craft in this AP shot that fronted the NYT in November ’07. If I’ve learned anything over these many months, having worked extremely hard alongside Deputy Publisher Karen Hull, and Alan and Sandra, it’s that we have a lot of friends.

Indeed, this not-for-profit and still exceedingly modest operation has many, many supporters who fervently share our vision to create stronger visual consumers; to speak truth to visual power; to deconstruct visual spin; and to share stories big media has forgotten about.

Of course, we know you’ll have plenty of thoughts and reactions to the new site, and we’re anxious to hear them. To collect your feedback, we’ll do our best to feature this post for a few days. After that, we encourage you to contact us.

Finally, given our modest budget (as compared to our “big picture” goals), we are simply awestruck over what designer Naz Hamid, technical wizard, Scott Robbin, and the Weightshift team managed to conceive and deliver (such as that fabulous archive I can’t stop play with and losing myself in).

So without any more words, I invite you to make yourself at home, and let’s read some pictures!


(photo: Diane Bondareff/Associated Press. caption: As photographers outside jockeyed for space closest to the window, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Senator Barack Obama met this morning at a diner on East 50th Street.)
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Michael Shaw
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