Scale

Flickr has made me observe a very interesting issue of SCALE in art. Does a piece of art look the same in one physical scale versus another? In Flickr, an image better look good in thumbnail if it's going to get attention. Certain elements do well in thumbnail: humans, repeating geometry, landscapes, bold colors, flowers, bokeh. Pictures dominated by detail and/or subtlety, on the other hand, really only look good when viewed larger, and thus suffer in popularity.

 

As McLuhan said, "the medium makes the message". As the visual arts went from the physical to the electronic, it enabled scale. I wonder whether we really think of our images very much in terms of this complex issue of scale of view. In this paradigm, is an image that only looks good in one scale a lesser-quality image than one which, all things being equal, looks good in multiple scales?

 

Practically, on Flickr, I believe that while the quality of a larger version of an image is what generates faves and "custom" comments, it's the quality of the thumbnail in large part that determines views and "award" comments.

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Taken on February 9, 2008