It’s garnered international acclaim, draws in the famous and unknown, but no one can really tell you what it is. South by Southwest is best experienced in person, but photos are the next best thing.
AUSTIN, TEXAS — There’s a lot to say about South by Southwest, almost none of which I expected and most of which would go misunderstood by anyone who hasn’t waded into the fray themselves. It’s a difficult creature to nail down.
The locals regard it with a sort of benign loathing, while at the same time being proud that this international phenomenon is in their city. They want you to love it, they want you to spend your money, but they certainly don’t want you to stay forever.
The increasingly popular city has drawn in people from all over the U.S. and new companies seem to set up shop on an almost daily basis. But this success has come with a downside — soaring rent prices and the sort of traffic that only an Angeleno could love.
And Californians seem to be responsible for a lot of it — at least that’s what you’ll hear over and over again.
One clerk, after asking where I was from, urged me, “Don’t tell people that.” You can always spot a Californian by how they downplay their origins with phrases like, “I’ve lived here for years,” or “I’m from all over, really.”
But all that is beside the point.
The point is that SXSW is a pretty incredible event. The city and organizers, not to mention the private-sector partners, pull out all the stops to make it happen. It incorporates the top experts and thinkers from across television, film, government, music, industry and then some, and somehow spins it into a fairly cohesive weeks-long undertaking.
I mean, where else can you find a robot breastfeeding device in the same exposition hall as recruiters for the CIA?
The best way, I think, to experience it beyond going for yourself is through images. These photos are from all over the city. Not all of them have an explanation, but not all of them need one either.