If your entire life were on camera, would anyone want to look at it? Last year, we reported on Memoto, a tiny camera that clips to your clothing and takes two photographs a minute for all the time it’s on. The first “lifelogging” photos from the device have just been published and they look … well, pretty normal.
The first Memoto photos are strikingly clear, generally well-exposed, and the colors are vibrant. That proves the technical capability of the device: It can take passable photos in any conditions, at any angle. But the real issue of Memoto isn’t so much the execution as the content. For all the visual appeal of the snapshots, they’re just not that interesting.
A friend takes a photo with a smartphone. Light falls on a classical building. There’s a traffic jam outside of South by Southwest in Austin. A man drives his car. It’s an essay in mundanity. The best photographs capture sweet moments of everyday life: A child playing in the snow stops and smiles back at the figure wearing the camera. A hammer falls in a workshop, caught just in time for the camera to snap. The question remains, just how much editing did it take to turn two photos a minute for days at a time into this selection?
Like Jon Rafman’s “Nine Eyes of Google” project in which the artist trawled Street View for surreal scenes, the magic of Memoto will be found through hunting for significant, meaningful moments in a sea of extraneous information and pictures of nothing in particular. It’s the same problem that keeps a device like Google Glass from being that compelling — how much of my life do I actually want recorded, archived, and shared? The answer is, probably not very much.
For those non-completists of their own existences, Memoto’s novelty value will likely wear out pretty quickly. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be interesting if you stuck one on your cat.