The Roku Gallery
Hang on to your hats for this one.
Part 1. In my youth, my stereo and my TV were two different things whose only connection was that they lived in the same room. Now, with the advance of technology, I don't even own a stereo system. I do own a music playing system, but that is the audio component of my television's home theater system. In fact, the audio that comes out of my modest home theater system today is far better than the audio that came out of my expensive, state-of-the-art stereo back in 1975.
Part 2. As a pleasant memory from my youth, I can still see my father wrapping aluminum foil on the rabbit ears of our television set in the hopes of receiving a clearer picture. Today, the only rabbit ears that are a part of our modern technological life are on actual rabbits. Most people receive their television signals via cable or satellite dish. I state this only as hearsay because I haven't subscribed to cable for years. Instead, virtually all of my television watching is now done via Internet transmissions and the magic of a Roku box.
Part 3. The Roku box is controlled by a small remote. It's functional, but slightly cumbersome. Instead, to control the Roku device, I use the Roku app on my Android phone or my tablet. Everything connects via Wi-Fi. It's sort of magic, sort of understandable, and perfectly functional. The advantage of using the Roku app is that there are all kinds of programming tricks that can be built into the app that cannot be added to a hardwired remote.
Part 4. Yesterday, Roku updated their app to do one of the most interesting tricks. I can now use the Roku app to stream the music stored on my phone or tablet device to play, via Wi-Fi transfer, on my television's home theater audio. It's an amazing feat and suddenly bridges the gap between where all of my music lives (as MP3 files) and where my best audio can be reproduced — all without wires or other physical connections between the music source and the audio player. Amazing!
Part 5: The Relevance for Photographers
And now we come to the dénouement. In addition to streaming music from my portable phone or tablet to my television home theater system, the new updated Roku app will also play a slideshow of images from the JPEG files stored on my portable device. With the tap of a button on the Roku app, I can have a rotating slideshow of 42-inch images that are quite stunning. I have no doubt they created this for family snapshots. But, by simply loading a folder of my fine art images onto my portable Android devices, I can have an amazing display of my artwork in stunning high definition detail, incredible dynamic range, and in a 42" scale larger than any print I've ever made.
An image from my recent Hilo Palms project on the 42" TV above our fireplace.
Roku is certainly not the first to allow us to do slide shows of our images on our TVs, but they are the latest in what is surely a trajectory that cannot be denied. Still images have a new (i.e., another) home. Combined with music (Roku does include this option) or a voice over audio track, this promises to be an exciting new vehicle for us photographers. How long will it be before we find a gallery filled with HD televisions exhibiting artwork this way? How long will it be before we find photographers completing and publishing their work for sale and consumer exhibition this way? Curious and difficult questions, but there is one question I can answer with confidence: How long will it be before photographers are exhibiting their own work on their own HD television sets this way? Answer: Today.