Tangled Up in Groups: Smokey’s Tangle celebrates 5th anniversary with semi-virtual group photo

By: Madeline Walsh
April 16, 2014
Image from Play Booth, 2013 via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook
Image from Play Booth, 2013
via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook

As their facebook page will tell you, Smokey’s Tangle is home to a number of creative pursuits. The “artist-owned community-minded studio” is also part gallery, part photo booth, and part t-shirt shop. This mish-mash of functions is great community asset and shows how art carves out spaces for creative expression. Smokey’s Tangle zooms in on art’s power to bring people together through their conceptual photo booths.

Image from “A Night in the Life of You” Photo Booth, 2014 via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook
Image from “A Night in the Life of You” Photo Booth, 2014
via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook

The interactive play booth is not only fun, but also shows how creative expression helps develop interpersonal and inter-spatial relationships. One of art’s most fundamental functions is to explore human nature and relationships. Smokey’s Tangle asks visitors to bring forth their inner artist through active participation. By engaging with the space, visitors develop a context for their surrounding space.

Today’s technology has helped push this phenomenon through social media and location-based applications. Take for example, the newest Internet oddity, Google Naps. The virtual map lists prime spots to snooze within your city limits. By presenting a city within this new context,  the map asks people to rethink technology’s influence on their human functions and daily lives. Like art, these tech functions allow us to define space and develop communities with more speed and intricacy than ever before.

Image from Photo Booth: Paulette’s Sh#t Show, 2012 via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook
Image from Photo Booth: Paulette’s Sh#t Show, 2012
via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook

So it is fitting that community-centric Smokey’s Tangle would celebrate its 5th anniversary with a semi-virtual project it describes as a “month-long group photo.” The collage features around 300 people, and was able to “capture approximately .07% of the Oakland population.” Interestingly enough, this diorama of artists, musicians, pets, children, friends of the gallery and newcomers was posted to Facebook. People of the internet were invited to tag themselves silly.

Smokey’s Tangle Group Photo, 2014  via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook
Smokey’s Tangle Group Photo, 2014
via Smokey’s Tangle Facebook

This project is a fun twist on how we understand connection today with the prevalence of technology and social media. Smokey’s Tangle visitors were encouraged to engage in person and online, extending the creative community into the virtual world. The group photo is an interesting observation of how both art and technology connect us and constantly redefine our relationships.

One of two photo booths at Musée Méchanique Photo by: David Gallagher Photo From: Musse Mechanique
One of two photo booths at Musée Méchanique
Photo by: David Gallagher
Photo From: Musse Mechanique

The Smokey’s Tangle project shows the positive impact of creative city spaces, and highlights the importance of celebrating and nurturing community. How have art and technology changed your relationships and sense of community? Feel like we’re living in a never-ending maze of virtual locations and relationship venn diagrams? Let us know what you think below.

A young couple editing their photos at “Pikapika” in San Francisco’s Japantown in 2008. Photo by: Michael Macor Photo from: SF Gate
A young couple editing their photos at “Pikapika” in San Francisco’s Japantown in 2008.
Photo by: Michael Macor
Photo from: SF Gate

For more photo booth fun in and around the Bay Area check out Musée Méchanique’s vintage booths offering strips of old school nostalgia or Japantown’s Pika Pika stall for more blinged out memories. Be sure to check out the Smokey’s Tangle space located at 4709 Telegraph Ave in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland.

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