Exclusive: Leslie Miles, Curator of Virtual Visual Curiosities

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Oh Internet, so vast and mighty, man’s solution to streamlining a global collective consciousness. But wait! What’s this? With unlimited accessibility comes the removal of a certain da-sein, an unbridled distraction from “reality” at-large… hundreds of RSS feed posts, streaming e-mails, sidetracks, social networking sites, and YouTube would appear to make the web less benevolent ruler and more sneaky trickster, whose overwhelming selection (provided by the hub of mental interconnectedness) dominates our lives.

Introducing Leslie Miles, whose self-named corner of the universe cleans up the excess to provide you with pure art in an effort “not to be everyone’s tenth favorite blog, but rather ten people’s favorite blog.” We interviewed him in order to find out more about how.

Flavorwire: Where did the concept of an art gallery-fashioned blog come from? Do your posts occur organically, whenever you are inspired?

Leslie Miles: The concept was simple enough: No words. Just images. Each post is a theme. The beauty is in the simplicity of the visual inspiration. It was over the past holidays that I felt a hunch creep up on me about where amateur blogs were going. Google Reader has completely changed the way my friends and I absorb content. And there’s much great content to be absorbed… too much. I was beginning to feel like my daily reads, shares, samples, and writings were becoming more a chore than pleasure. It seemed that if I could create a more simple avenue of inspiration, particularly visual inspiration, there would be an audience.

The “byline” came to me very quickly and the tone was set. I wanted to show images to my friends. Take a look. Cool, right? That’s it. Some images, when connected to each other, take on new meanings. That’s why I’ve posted the images in themes. I’ll put it this way… when you’re telling someone a story or anecdote, there’s a lead in, followed by a bit of context until you get at the “but here’s the thing” sentence which either gets an ‘oh, okay, I see’ response, or it doesn’t. The goal with my posts is to get that “cool, I get it” response.

For most groups of friends, there is often someone who always knows the best new restaurant in town or another that is on top of the latest music scene, and thank goodness they do because the rest of us certainly don’t have the time to check all the new tracks coming through the pipeline or new cool places to grab a bite. I guess I’m the guy for images. Maybe music, too.

FW: What are your influences, if any, and do you have a method in sifting through the endless amounts of web-based content? Do you plan to have the web page be a literal gallery (in which case, you could reveal future “exhibitions,” or themes), or does the gallery comparison merely serve to demonstrate your site’s selectivity? Do you know of other blogs following your example, or whose example you are following?

LM: I’m more or less a poacher. I do not take any credit for the photographs at all, nor do I am to use the images as a springboard for my own promotion. That’s why I prefer to remain faceless. Sites like JJJJound, Garance Dore, or Jakubowski — these guys are fantastic, as are hundreds of others we don’t know about. Are they all not just galleries? Again, the idea is really just a cue to visual inspiration to my friends… ten people who “get it.”

People have emailed asking where I find the photos and why I don’t attribute them. Truth is, I’m not sure. I find them all over the place — photo blogs from Europe, Flickr feeds, my own camera, university digital archives and various creative commons. I try to not alter the name of the file that I download so that proper credit may be attributed if someone finds their own work. There’s one fellow who comments on every post about how terrible it is to shoplift others’ work. I understand him completely. But then there are twelve other posts from people who are genuinely excited to come across these images for the first time. Look, I try to not alter the name of the file that I download so that proper credit may be attributed if someone finds their own work. No profit to me is supposed to come from posting their work beyond a smile and a moment in a day that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.

Say you walk into somebody’s house and see beautiful art on their walls. Would you fault them if they told you, “I don’t remember where I got it, but I’ve always liked that painting” or “Yeah, I saw that photo at a friend’s house in Europe a few years back and got a copy for myself”? Yes, there are a few photos there that I took myself and are “original”, but most all of them are others’ and I stand to do nothing but share their beauty. A sincere apology to those who think that is shoplifting. I should also admit that I’m not terribly tech savvy. The pages could be a little more 2.0, but simplicity’s the game here.

FW: Do the images you choose represent your artistic aesthetic (though with different themes, they have a similar feel), or do you attempt to remain detached in choosing the images?

LM: Without a doubt, the images I put up resonate with my own taste.