Saturday 28th February 2015Selfie Stick Bans
Back in January, there was an article here on Gallereo about a new phenomenon that's changing that most post-modern of new media art forms, the selfie. Snicker all you like, but it's hard to deny how the term has captured the popular imagination, and by extension, no surprise that someone cashed in by developing what is essentially a hand-held tripod, used to extend the compositional range of your selfportrait. It grips your phone, and the camera's shutter is triggered remotely by a button in the handle.
It's that last part that got them into trouble originally in South Korea, where the devices were first banned, but that trend is spreading almost as fast as the selfies they enable. Major museums and galleries in cities around the world have begun to prohibit their use, and for a wide variety of reasons. The primary issue seems to be that they're concerned the devices will completely disrupt the atmosphere, and in some cases, actually damage the works of art themselves. Oddly enough, many stress that they haven't actually had any issues with the devices as of yet, but hardly a week goes by when another blurb is splashed across the internet that yet another museum or gallery has announced a prohibition against their use.
One would think that this is simply a logical extension of the standard museum and gallery line, which variously prohibits flash photography and the usage of tripods, but perhaps a bit of free publicity is just too tempting to turn down. In the more general public sector, those who criticize the devices seem to find them obnoxious, which is probably simply an extension of their hatred of the entire selfie concept. In the art museum sphere, it seems that the main fear is vandalism - and on the surface, that seems plausible, except that it ignores a simple fact of human nature. If someone is going to be so insensitive and boorish as to damage priceless works of art, they're going to do it anyways, whether they have a selfie stick or not, and banning the sticks isn't going to remove the keys and coins in their pockets which could do exactly the same job. We should simply be doing our best to create a respectful atmosphere where our own enjoyment doesn't need to compromise the enjoyment of others.
Posted on February 28th 2015 on 03:38am
Wednesday 11th February 2015Selfies - From Space!
While it's with heavy fingers that we type the world 'selfie' at all, it's hard to get away from it in the world of photography at the moment. In this one case, however, it's with pleasure rather than trepidation that we type the word, as it also happens to involve astronauts and outer space. If you happen to have a few spare quid lying around, you might just be able to pick yourself up a piece of space photography history in the next few weeks, as a number of photographs from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration archives are going up on the auction block.
Depending on whom you ask, the star of the lot might be the first space selfie, taken by the late Col. Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin in 1966 with the curve of the Earth just visible in the background, or it might be the 1972 photograph taken by Eugene Cernan of Harrison Schmitt and the American flag planted on the lunar surface, with the Earth in the background. The Cernan photograph has been called "one of the great photos to come out of the space program," but it's hard to deny the buzz behind the Aldrin picture (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves).
The auction takes place on February 26th in London, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions, and the collection is visible in Mallet Antiques as an exhibit entitled 'From the Earth to the Moon'. As Sarah Wheeler, who is Head of Photographs at the auction house, put it, "These photographs are more than merely documentary, many are simply sublime. They represent a golden age in the history of photography as well, when a few men went to the unknown to bring back awe-inspiring pictures. The view of the first Earthrise over the lunar horizon changed Man's relationship with the cosmos forever."
The prices aren't particularly astronomical, perhaps surprisingly, considering that Wheeler is correct in noting their impressive historical value. The estimated sale prices for the photos range from £300 to £10,000, which is still a pretty penny, but can you really put a price on the first photos of our own planet? Nothing would beat being able to casually mention, as your friend whips out their selfie stick, that you happen to have the first selfie from space.
Posted on February 11th 2015 on 10:56pm
Wednesday 21st January 2015Selfie Sticks
Whether you love it or hate it, the selfie craze might just be here to stay. Instagram is more popular than ever, and celebrities are all over the bandwagon to ensure that the entire thing is here to stay. As always, when there is a market gap, someone will come along to fill it, and the selfie craze is no exception.
Mobile phone photography has already managed to recreate the entire camera industry in miniature - you can purchase additional lenses, additional editing software, feature phones whose entire premise is based around a camera with more megapixels than some DSLRs. The only thing that was missing, really, was the tripod. However, since a tripod is bulky and much of the appeal behind smartphone photography is the extremely portable nature of it, there probably isn't going to be too much of a market. Enter the selfie stick.
It is, unsurprisingly, exactly what it says on the tin. A stick of some kind of strong lightweight material (let us forestall the day of carbon fiber selfie sticks, please) with a way to attach your phone to one end. You hold it up, and you can suddenly take all sorts of wildly angled selfies from your phone. Can't quite get the tiger cage in the background into the shot? Nicholas Cage just too far away to get into the frame? No problem, if you've got a selfie stick.
Whether or not people will be roundly mocked for actually carrying these around and using them remains to be seen, as their popularity hasn't quite hit peak annoyance yet (if it ever does), but there has already been a bit of controversy over the devices, which are much more popular in Asia than in the West. Most of the devices use Bluetooth to trigger the camera shutter and actually take the shot, which wouldn't be much of a problem - unless there were huge numbers of them in use. In South Korea, the problem is that the sticks are so popular that they are being bootstrapped together by vendors who don't register them with the local broadcasting authority, the equivalent of running around downtown London with an unlicensed radio station transmitter in the back of a van - pirate radio, bluetooth style.
Will they catch on here? Keep your eye out this summer to find out.
Posted on January 21st 2015 on 04:57pm