Lost in Text

Lost in Text 1

I managed to catch a few people lost in texting whilst I was in Brighton, so I made a Lost in Text Flickr group.

I find the look on people’s faces, both absent and engaged at the same time, fascinating. I especially like these people who were working in these tiny booths on the pier, with absolutely no business going on. They seemed both trapped in little boxes and yet freed by their phones and engaged in other lives.

I’m sure there are plenty of others that people have out there, so feel free to add to the group and tag any images with “lostintext”.

Photographer’s Rights

Photography Prohibited

I’ve long been uncomfortable and unclear about the law when it comes to taking photos in public places and have read of several situations when ‘security’ or police have prevented or questioned photographers or downright threatened them or made them delete images (the old film cliché of opening the camera back and spooling out the film is no more).

Fortunately, Photojojo have published a guide to photographer’s rights and a link to a handy PDF version. Also links to similar PDFs for the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

During the six and a half years I lived in Sydney I noticed a considerable shift from the happy-go-lucky mythology of Australia to an increasingly controlled environment due to ‘security concerns’. Like many governments, fear was used as a control mechanism and one of the casualties of this was photography.

Sydney councils tried to ban photography on the beaches after a couple of incidents of people photography topless women with cameraphones. It all fed into the moral panic about phones with cameras (most of it completely illogical) and started to clash with the right to take photographs. (In the topless women-on-the-beach incident, the counter argument was that if you went topless on the beach, you could expect to be stared at, but in the case of the guy who took the photos, they were basically voyeuristic close-ups). Sydney beaches – and the people on them – are very photogenic and it’s a classic place to take photos, banning them is absurd and probably illegal.

But there are other odd cases too. Iain wrote about being banned from snapping a sandwich, Southgate just outside Melbourne (every bit as dull as Southgate in the UK) tried to ban tourists taking snaps on the grounds of ‘terrorist threats’. There’s also a blog called Strictly No Photography with photos of places where you’re not allowed to take photos.

For photographers like my friend Ray Lewis, whose particular eye on everyday life I wouldn’t want to see banned, it can be a problem. As it can also be for interactive installations in public places that use cameras.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that photographer’s rights are surprisingly wide-ranging – no wonder paparazzi rarely get arrested. Not that it would happen not being a celeb, but although I wouldn’t want people sticking a lens in my face all the time, I’d put up with it to preserve my right for a security goon not to be able to stick a fist in my face.

(The photo is one I took at Mumbai airport – I wasn’t really sure what I wasn’t allowed to photograph – outside, inside, the gardens, the sign?)

[tags]photography, rights, law, security[/tags]

The Changing Culture of Mobile Phones

In France at least (which is good, because we usually only get a very Anglo-Saxon view of these things).

Experientia have translated the summary of a report by The French Association of Mobile Operators on the changing culture of mobile phone usage.

Some of the really interesting points are about mobiles becoming collective items passed around social groups (in response to free talk-time packages) as well as the nature of and relationship to the devices on an emotional/cultural level.

It’s all interesting and you should have a read in detail and it’s fascinating to see how culture takes up tools and plays with their affordances. This last point about the taking of photos with mobiles was interesting to me:

The mobile phone is seen as a “average medium” that renews amateur photo and film practice.

Mobile phone images are viewed as precarious images, often of uncertain quality, not to be printed and not be shared between devices. These images always call up a description of something one should see. They serve to create memories and to prove that one really was present at the event one is talking about (e.g. a concert, a celebrity passing by …).

Mobile phone images are integrated within several reference frameworks that preceded the phone: the journalism of the everyday and one’s own life, spontaneous family images as opposed to fake happiness, the sensationalism that comes with having to set up brief, clear, efficient and striking acts.

More spectacular scenes can raise the challenge by bringing in the grotesque, the playful, the macabre, even violence. This is what lead to the videos gags, the MTV Jackass and the so-called ‘snuff movies’. The aggressions filmed on a mobile phone are one of the most recent expressions of this (although the expression ‘happy slapping’ was not used by any of the people interviewed within this study).

I’m not sure who did the translation (the blog post doesn’t show the author), but I’m guessing it was Mark Vanderbeeken who maintains Experientia. I can’t thank him enough, my schoolboy French would have bee soon out of its depth and drowning in a sea of declensions.

[tags]mobile, photography, Experientia[/tags]