Last year I went to Rome. I’d previously studied in the city during college, as well as taken a brief trip there in high school, but my companion hadn’t been to Rome since he was three. So, we visited all of the important sites — the Colosseum, the Forum, Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon — and at each stop, I took out my camera and dutifully clicked the shutter. I knew I had photos — one set at least — of all of these places, yet it felt important to me to shoot them again, to capture the magic of this particular trip. I’ve never quite figured out why.
Philipp Schmitt seems to be wondering the same thing. An interaction design student at Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd in Germany, Schmitt has started a project he calls “Location-Based Light Painting,” for which he maps geotagged photos of public spaces that are available online, thus turning our obsession with photography into something tangible.
There are three steps to Schmitt’s process. He began by simply placing geotagged photos in online maps as markers, little mustard-yellow drops littering New York City. Next, he created a web app “to retrieve my current geo location and to query the web for pictures taken at that position,” he writes on his website. He also rigged a camera flash to go off whenever pictures are found, allowing him to walk around an area while the flash is triggered. He records those results in long-exposure photographs of his own that are dotted with spots of light.
In the final step, Schmitt added a person to the scenes, focusing his camera and flash on a stand-in tourist who appears and reappears brandishing a camera of his own.
The ghostly results are gray-scale photographs filled with embodied bright spots and fading figures. They are a contradiction in terms: their content seems to point to the futility of picture taking, but the feeling of hauntedness that pervades them seems to suggest some lingering power. In a curious way, they hark back to the first photograph ever taken of a person, a street scene shot by Daguerre with a 10-minute exposure — only two men stayed still long enough to appear. Then, in 1838, people went about their lives with no inkling of the technology that was set to revolutionize the world; now we carry it in our pockets, snap without thinking, and barely notice it at all.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
This week, Patrisse Cullors speaks, reviewing John Richardson’s final Picasso book, the Met Museum snags a rare oil on copper by Nicolas Poussin, and much more.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Alexi Worth’s paintings demand a double take that allows viewers to look closer and begin dissembling the painting in order to understand what is being looked at.
Anastasia Pelias’s sculpture builds on this mythological legacy, suggesting we all have the ability to commune with a higher power and influence our futures.
Curated by Jill Kearney, this exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ amplifies stories both local and universal with work by Willie Cole, Sandra Ramos, sTo Len, and more.
Jack Spicer’s poetry can be deeply funny and playful but it has a consistent undercurrent of sadness.
Belinda Rathbone’s biography traces the sculptor’s embrace of kinetic mechanisms to his work in the Singer Sewing Machine factory.
The first lecture is on the relationship between early portrait photography and diverse notions of US identity during the Gilded Age. Register to attend on January 25.
It’s the first time in the country’s history that objects of this significance are offered for public sale.
Schwartz was at the forefront of computer-generated art before desktops or the kind of software that makes it commonplace today.
Curator La Tanya S. Autry shares a set of crucial questions she considers when curating images of anti-Black violence.