Via a Benedict Evans newsletter.
2019 outlook on the shipment by product type concerning cameras and related goods (pdf)
“Fascinating set of charts for the Japanese camera industry. The compact camera is now mostly gone thanks to smartphones, but the higher-end removable-lens cameras have stabilized, and at a much higher revenue than pre-digital, and lens sales are doing great. Also, the customer for these cameras is now younger and less male. Digital has opened up pro/hobbyist cameras even as smartphones killed snapshot cameras.”
Last week, a look at the demise of CDs. Now, a similar curve for compact cameras. Avoid anything with the word ‘compact’, I think.
There is such a high level of surveillance in our society. There are cameras everywhere, but they’re our cameras.
The ubiquity of smartphones, as captured by photographers
With so many devices in so many hands now, the visual landscape has changed greatly, making it a rare event to find oneself in a group of people anywhere in the world and not see at least one of them using a phone. Collected here: a look at that smartphone landscape, and some of the stories of the phones’ owners.
What an odd world we live in.
The real world isn’t really real unless there’s a screen between us and it.
But then you come across a photo like this.
Such a strong image. The difference between surveillance and sousveillance.
Sousveillance is the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity, typically by way of small wearable or portable personal technologies. The term “sousveillance”, coined by Steve Mann, stems from the contrasting French words sur, meaning “above”, and sous, meaning “below”, i.e. “surveillance” denotes the “eye-in-the-sky” watching from above, whereas “sousveillance” denotes bringing the camera or other means of observation down to human level, either physically (mounting cameras on people rather than on buildings), or hierarchically (ordinary people doing the watching, rather than higher authorities or architectures doing the watching).
From Chris Eckert, a maker of “little art machines”, has made what could be described as a surveillance sculpture.
A disconcerting installation featuring 20 blinking kinetic eyeballs that track a person around a room
San Francisco artist Chris Eckert, who wanted to make a point of increasing surveillance and decreasing privacy of the population, has created “Blink”, an absolutely incredible series of mechanically operating blinking single eyeballs in a row, each equipped with face tracking software to deliberately evoke a disconcerting sense of privacy violation.
Yes, that combination of a very realistic eyeball looking directly at you from a very unreal, robotic face is unsettling, but I think what really works well is what happens after, as Chris explains in this video.
“You would have these interactions with them, and hopefully enjoy yourself playing with these eyeballs, only to go around the corner to discover that you’ve been recorded and observed the entire time by multiple eyeballs. And that anyone in that room was watching those video feeds and observing you doing that. And it kind of shifted your view of what was happening there. It changed it from being fun to being kind of invasive.”
Look Out! Chris Eckert’s Machines Are Watching You | KQED Arts
There are many more remarkable art machines on his website, and here is a piece on his Privacy Not Included exhibition, that Blink formed part of.
Chris Eckert: Privacy Not Included exhibition at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Privacy Not Included presents a sensorial experience that considers how we are viewed, followed, and tracked. As technology progresses and, in conjunction, as we continue to share personal data and information, what will be the consequences of our own privacy, our right to personal space, and ultimately, our freedom? In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 about omnipresent surveillance and public manipulation, the author writes, “The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” The works in the exhibition challenge us to contemplate this dilemma. They reflect the conundrum we face in our contemporary society: appreciating the joy of convenience and technology’s ability to provide us security and safety, versus negotiating between the disconcerting, constant surveillance and intrusion in our lives.
And to really bring that point home, here’s an article from Aeon on the same theme, convenience versus surveillance.
Orwell knew: we willingly buy the screens that are used against us
One can easily imagine choosing to buy a telescreen – indeed, many of us already have. And one can also imagine needing one, or finding them so convenient that they feel compulsory. The big step is when convenience becomes compulsory: when we can’t file our taxes, complete the census or contest a claim without a telescreen.
Canon is officially done selling film cameras after 80 years
Over the next 80 years, Canon would produce a long, respected line of rangefinders and SLR cameras that turned the company into a global leader in camera equipment. But after the introduction of Canon’s first digital camera, the RC-701 in 1984, Canon’s focus began shifting more and more toward the emerging digital camera market.
Even as virtually all of its film cameras were discontinued in the digital age, Canon kept the EOS-1V alive for professional film photographers as its sole film camera.
But as one door closes, another opens. Hopefully.
Reflex: Bringing back the analogue SLR camera
Reflex is a modern update of the timeless manual SLR 35mm film camera. Distinctive in its modular design, it combines contemporary mechanical and electrical engineering with the classic design of an analogue camera, making it the first newly designed manual SLR system in over 25 years.
Kodak, Fujifilm: Film photography is definitely back
But in the last three years, companies like Kodak, Fujifilm and Harman Technology, which manufactures the popular Ilford Photo black-and-white films, have been experiencing a comeback. “We’re seeing film growth of 5% year-on-year globally,” says Giles Branthwaite, the sales and marketing director at Harman. “Our professional film sales have been increasing over the last two or three years,” confirms Dennis Olbrich, president of Kodak Alaris’ imaging, paper, photo chemicals and film division.
I was happy to join in with Reflex’s Kickstarter project, and its target was easily met. I really hope it’s successful, after having had my fingers burnt earlier.
Yet if the advent of digital photography compressed the core processes of the medium, smartphones further squish the full spectrum of photographic storytelling: capture, edit, collate, share, and respond.”
I love Craig Mod’s writing. Had only read his stuff about books and publishing before — this piece for the New Yorker on his changing relationship with cameras and networked photography is great.