The Democratic National Convention is about to open in Denver, and I feel like I have a role in the event…not politically, but artistically.
A couple of years ago, I was at a conference in Denver, and I stepped outside between meetings and took a couple of photographs of “I See What You Mean,” Lawrence Argent’s sculpture of a big blue bear that peers through the window of the Convention Center. Not great photographs — I was rather disappointed at the time that the blue came out looking darker and duller than it really is. But I posted them on Flickr anyway. Good librarian that I am, I included the name of the artist and the sculpture in my description, with a link to the Denver city government’s page describing the work.
Over the past two years, the one seen here has gotten quite a few views, gradually working its way into my most-viewed photographs, hovering at about number twenty. When Flickr introduced their Stats program, I could see where the views were coming from — nearly all came from search engines. People were searching for Big Blue Bear Denver or Blue Bear Denver Convention Center or variations on those terms. Not a lot of traffic, really — to be honest, it doesn’t take thousands of hits to make it into my most-viewed photographs. Just a steady stream, a few every week.
Until recently — as the Democratic Convention was approaching, the Colorado Convention Center has been in the news, and the most striking aspect of that building is that big blue bear. My photographs started getting more hits, gradually moving from a few a week to dozens a day. Most still come from search engines, but an increasing number come from links in e-mail messages, forums and various other webpages. The photograph has a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commercial, sharealike) and it’s been used on a few websites. It’s now my most-viewed photograph of all time, and, at the moment, if you do a Google search on Big Blue Bear Denver, this photograph is the first search result.
I must say that I enjoy this. I like thinking of all those people looking for information about this and finding my photograph. And it’s not that my photograph is the best one. It’s not…it’s not even the best one on Flickr. It’s generic — just the standard view of this, one duplicated with slight variations by hundreds of tourists and convention-goers every year. I can’t even identify my own photograph except by close examination to see the red truck reflected in the window.
But for most people just Googling around, my photograph may be all they need, good enough, and that’s good enough for me.
So I’ll be watching the Convention coverage on TV, reading the news sites and following the blogs, but while I am watching the delegate count, I’ll also be checking my Flickr stats to see how my Big Blue Bear is doing!
- Lawrence Argent: I See What You Mean — Page from the Denver city government site describing the work, with a video clip showing the installation
- Lawrence Argent — The artist’s website which includes his statement on the origin and meaning of the Big Blue Bear as well as information about his other works
- The Man Behind the Bear: Lawrence Argent Q&A — Interview from the Denver.org website
- One Bear Essential for DNC — Article by Al Lewis, Dow Jones Newswires, on the miniature replicas of the bear that Argent is selling