The struggle to make an impact in a noisy, digital world

Jack Jams, Red River Street - Austin, Texas

Jack Jams, Red River Street – Austin, Texas

In this increasingly connected and noisy world, it is hard to make an impact. — to rise above the background clutter — to get noticed. I think about this all the time as I put my photographs out there and post to this blog. How do I increase my audience so that I can share my thoughts and images with more people? It is an exciting, brave new world. More than ever, individuals can put their art out there and broadcast it to the world. This opportunity has never existed before in human history.

I’ve talked about and featured photographs of Kao=S, a band that fuses traditional Japanese instruments with rock. I’ve taken a keen interest in this band, not only for their unique music but because I identify with their struggle to break through — to get noticed and build an audience. Unlike the other Japanese bands I’ve seen in Austin, Kao=S takes every opportunity to be heard. Beyond performing at clubs, they took to the streets to perform in front of anyone that would listen.

Shuji on Red River Street #1 - Austin, Texas

Shuji on Red River Street #1 – Austin, Texas

Daisuke and Jack, Red River Street - Austin, Texas

Daisuke and Jack, Red River Street – Austin, Texas

These photographs are from one of their impromptu concerts. They setup on Red River Street in the middle of the SXSW 2013. You can feel the energy, and a dynamic that’s different from a stage performance. I have tremendous respect for artists willing to perform in front of an unfamiliar audience.

JKaori performing, Red River Street - Austin, Texas

Kaori performing, Red River Street – Austin, Texas

I see many parallels between music and photography. Both are tremendously impacted by digital copies and easy world-wide distribution. Both art forms are stolen by many people without a thought about the consequences. But ultimately, beyond the fear of theft, the fear of irrelevance is stronger. What good is art if it isn’t seen and heard by others? And though I don’t get the impact of performing directly in front of a crowd, I suppose I post my photos to put a piece of me out there. Perhaps something that will outlast me, in the digital ether, long after I’m gone.

Jack with his shamisen, Red River Street - Austin, Texas

Jack with his shamisen, Red River Street – Austin, Texas

JShuji on Red River Street #2 - Austin, Texas

Shuji on Red River Street #2 – Austin, Texas

While I don’t think photography has the same visceral impact as music, it’s the way I’m trying to leave my mark. I feature these photos as a proxy for my struggles to be seen. Photographs of me taking pictures or post-processing doesn’t seem as cool as these guys jamming on the street. But the same struggles are there, with any artist, in this modern, digital world. I’m glad that, in some small way, I can share the artistry of Kao=S through my art of capturing life in the city.

Kao=S on Red River Street - Austin, Texas

Kao=S on Red River Street – Austin, Texas

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.

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