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Zapplication: Behind the scenes by Craig Nutt

When I wrote the posts on ASK Harriete about CaFE, Craig Nutt woodworker, exhibiting artist, and Director of Programs at CERF responded and offered observations about his experience with Zapplication. His comments were so thorough, I thought this Guest Post on ASK Harriete would be informative.

NUTTcraig2005 Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Craig Nutt, in this post are his and his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied.

From Craig Nutt:
I have not used CaFE, but have been a juror for several shows that used Zapplication, and was considering Zapplication for craft fairs sponsored by an organization I directed.  My first experience was the first year the American Craft Council used Zapp for their shows, and I have been on another ACC jury since.  Both times, the jury was live -- in fact, ACC convened 2 separate juries with 9 jurors each (I believe) separating home and office from more fashion-oriented work. 

A/V technicians were present to handle the process and troubleshoot loose network cables, etc.  I believe the images were served on a local server, rather than over the internet, giving them much more bandwidth than you have over an internet connection.  This (along with multiple projectors) allowed them to project all slides for each entry together, just as they were done when slide carousels were used. 

Zapp The submitted images on Zapplication are 1920px x 1920px, and most projectors are limited to 1024px x 768px, so it was possible to zoom into the images at two additional levels of magnification.  This was incredibly helpful to the jurors and really helped some artists (e.g. weavers, basket artists) by giving a better view of the detail structure, and hurt some (you could see bad welds!).

The score sheets are on a notebook with thumbnails of each of the images, so there is no mistaking an entry and scoring on the wrong line.  There is also the capability of going back and looking at images full screen or reviewing a score, but this is of limited value since there is very little time to do this with the number of slides that have to be scored over the days of jurying.  In the old days ACC put the slides on a timer, which was fair but there was no going back.

On another jury for a smaller show, the jurying was a little different.  The images were served over a high-speed internet connection and there were some compromises for the reduced bandwidth.  (A wired network connection can deliver 100 or even up to  1000 Mbps while a DSL connection typically delivers under 3Mbs –that is bits not bytes).  The limitations of bandwidth translated into a very acceptable experience, but not the deluxe experience of the ACC jury.  Images were projected one at a time, and zooming had to be done more sparingly.

There are a few fringe benefits of this new technology that might not occur to some artists.  One is ease of handling applications, by both the artist and the organization.  Gone are sorting slides into 5 carousels and all the paperwork to create jury forms and to get slides in the right order and pointing the right direction.  No more two checks, one for jury fee, and one for the booth fee (returned if you do not get in).  Also, no slides to return.  The submitted images are large enough to use for publicity, and don’t need to be scanned, improving the chances that more artists will be considered for press requests, postcards, ads and other publicity.

In one of the last carousel juries I was on, a slide jammed.  As the staff was fishing it out with a butter knife, one of the jurors remarked, “actually they never perfected THIS technology.”
Balance-scale-unbalanced

Pros for Zapplication:
•    Ease of handling
•    Score sheets with thumbnail images
•    Ability to go back to review scores and revise (if there is time)
•    Square format does not favor horizontal images-all images are the same dimensions (square images may be slightly favored in image area)
•    Possible for organizers to show selected images without manually resorting slides (extremely useful for tiered juries such as fellowships or exhibitions)
•    Ability to zoom in on images (depending on bandwidth available)
•    Slides do not jam
•    Makes it easy and cost-effective to jury remotely and not convene a live jury

Cons for Zapplication:
•    Makes it easy and cost-effective to jury remotely and not convene a live jury
      o    If jury is remote, images will probably be viewed on variously-sized computer monitors, rather than being projected
      o    If jury is remote, the process is not facilitated and managed by staff
•    Images shot with inexpensive digital cameras are often not as good as transparencies (I noticed this when reviewing images for a book with both film and digital submissions)
•    There can sometimes be delays due to technical glitches (similar to slides)

Copy of glasses From the point of view of a juror (and as an artist) I think these are the most important aspects of any jury system:


•    Fairness to all submissions
•    Images are projected in as close to ideal circumstances as possible (quality projector, high resolution,  good background, easy to read the images)
•    Simplicity of the review process for the juror.  Allow the juror to concentrate on the work submitted and not the jury process.  In my best jury experiences the process has been so well-organized as to be transparent.
•    (Fringe benefit) Opportunity to meet and get to know the sponsoring organization and staff as well as other jurors.

Thank you Craig for this behind the scene insight into Zapplication and the jury process.

Harriete NUTTradisht1

Craig Nutt is a wood worker, and Director of Program at CERF. He was the juror for the Lark Book 500 Chairs, has exhibited his work widely and included in 12 museum permanent collections.

 

Craig Nutt Burning bench titled Burning © 2002 Craig Nutt
Oil paint, lacquer on carved wood
46" x  57" x  31"
Upholstery- hand woven & dyed cotton  silk chenille by Janet Taylor.

 

Craig Nutt  Burning bench close up 4  


 


 

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