Ethics are in the View-Finder of the Beholder

man on train taku

We are so preoccupied with whether or not we could, we didn’t stop to think if we should.  A somewhat bastardised version of Jeff Goldblum’s famous quote from Jurassic Park, but one that I think holds great meaning in the debate surrounding public photography.

I absolutely love street photography, seeing images of people captured while doing menial/ everyday tasks.  There is just something intriguing and weird about seeing strangers complete these activities (crossing the street, running for a bus, etc.).  But when you’re capturing people’s images should you let them know?  Ask beforehand, and you may ruin the authenticity of the shot, try and ask after and you may not get the chance.  Surely it must be an unrealistic expectation.

man on stairs taku

As we have evolved from using big bulky cameras to smartphones, the way we approach photography has also evolved.  It’s safe to say that everyone now holds the power to take a photo, and regardless of skill anyone can now be a photographer.  But because the ability to photograph is now so widely accessible, have the ethics surrounding taken people’s photos changed?

Whether we like it or not in public we are constantly under ‘surveillance’ from CCTV cameras in the streets or photos being taken by others around us.  So if we can happily enter public spaces with the knowledge that we are being photographed should we care if someone ‘actively’ captures our image?  What I mean by this is, should we enter public space with the knowledge that we will inevitably be photographed, whether that’s by a professional or someone snapchatting their coffee.

street taku

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
That should be the greatest take-away from this, and a perspective which should be applied to many activities not just public photography.  The law may be on your side when it comes to taking these photos, but like… don’t be a dick.  If someone expresses their displeasure with you snapping them, respect this and just don’t do it.

For me, one of the most fun things about working in the city is trying to ‘photo-bomb’ tourist’s snaps.  I can only imagine what they think when they look through their cameras later and see a 6’2” white guy standing behind them.  But for as many images that I try to get into, I wonder how many have been taken without my knowledge?  In that moment, no matter how insignificant my presence is in that image, we have a common connection.  Two people who may otherwise have shared nothing, now have something.

While there is no law regarding taking pictures of people in public, you should always be wary of your subject and surroundings.  Personally, I think that unless you are actively engaging or having a specific person or group as the subject/ focus of that image, you shouldn’t need to seek their permission.  But I don’t think that this is an ethical dilemma that will be easily resolved soon.

hong kong flats

For some other perspectives on this ethical debate please go and check out these guys:

And for some more of the beautiful examples of public photography featured in this article have a look at the work of Australia music producer, photography and all-round good dude Ta-ku via Instagram or his website.

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An Acceptable Social Activity Where Being Actively Social Is Unacceptable.

(Generic cinema photo brought to you by EventConnect)

I would consider myself a bit of a ‘cinephile’, I absolutely love watching films whether it’s a critically-acclaimed masterpiece or something a little more left of centre.  When I was younger, going to “the movies” was an experience usually only reserved for the school holidays, and it was always a really big deal.  A whole day would be set aside to eat popcorn and sit in a darkroom with a bunch of strangers.  An acceptable social activity where being actively social is unacceptable.

But now, I rarely find myself going to see a film at places like Event or Hoyts anymore.  The fond memories of enjoying the cinema as a child have been replaced with a feeling of outrage for the amount that it costs to see a film, especially when you include the essentials like buttered cardboard bites and an ‘insta-diabetes’ sized soda.  And now with ‘torrenting’ and streaming services like Netflix being so widely accessible, it no longer seems like such an attractive social activity.

As with any undertaking any venture, there are many limitation that are considered.  In the late 1960’s the Swedish geographer Torsten Hagerstrand introduced the concept of ‘time geography’, an analysis of an individual’s movement through space and time (some reeeeeal sci-fi sounding shit right there).  Hagerstrand recognised three constraints that limit everyday activities:

Capability – The restrictions faced due to natural causes (eating, drinking, and sleeping in order to be able to function).

Coupling – Overcoming the limitations of human potential (using a car to get somewhere faster than could naturally be achieved).

Authority – The rules and regulations imposed on the individual (societal laws and protocols, like the trading hours of stores and venues).

This week’s task was to get to a cinema and see a film (I guess somewhat inherent in going to the cinema), although it was a goal that I couldn’t achieve due to a culmination of Hagerstrand’s constraints.   So I think I’d like to analyse my most recent cinema experience, Mad Max: Fury Road, while exploring both how Hagerstrand’s constraits impact actions, and talk a little about cinema/ movie-going behaviour… I think?

A couple of my mates and I had been talking about seeing the movie a few weeks before, and luckily we had settled on a night that suited each other’s agendas (Coupling).  I had a late work meeting in the city and was at the mercy of Sydney Trains (colloquially/formally known as Shitty Rail) as a means of making it back to Miranda in time to see the film (Coupling).  The scheduling/ making time part of taking a trip to the cinemas is definitely the hardest part.  You can’t exactly turn up at 2am and expect to see something (Authority).  So we had all made it on time, and luckily the tickets had been purchased online made sure that we were allowed to be there (Authority), not to mention that it was an MA15+ film and we didn’t even get asked for ID (also, Authority)… score!  But the looks of displeasure from the ‘non-online’ patrons were hilarious as we were called over to the counter before them.

The experience of seeing such a visual film as Mad Max in a cinema was not to be beaten.  The rumbling engines that vibrated the seats, the heavy metal blaring through the speaker (although, not too loud as turn ruin the viewing experience), and the vibrant colours were all things that made the $22 ticket worthwhile.  It’s one hell of an extreme movie, and I don’t think that you could feel the true intensity anywhere other than in a cinema seat.  I know this is off on a little bit of a tangent, but for me to test this theory I watched it again on my laptop while at home, and it just wasn’t the same.  The film lacked the ‘on-the-edge’ intensity I felt while at the movies.

So I guess you have to wonder what going to the cinema will be like in 10 years from now, or if it will still be such a popular social activity.  It’s an Australian past-time, but is it becoming too much of a luxury experience to be enjoy by all?  I’d definitely love to see movie theatres thriving, but I think there needs to be more work done to improve movie-going experiences while not breaking the bank.

No Wi-Fi and No Beer Make Conor Go Something, Something…

theinternetiscool(image source)

I dare say that the internet connection in my home has become the most important bill to be paid each month.  Although, I do suppose the electricity to run the router/ devices is also kind of a necessity.  We are quite a digitally connected family, each with multiple devices constantly accessing the far reaches of the internet every day (apparently there are about 20 currently linked to our router).

However, the ways in which we use the internet are each very different.  I would say my mother’s internet habit are rather typical for someone of her generation in that its primary use is for connecting with her family overseas, keeping up with news, and looking at YouTube videos to try and remain ‘hip and cool’.

My younger sister is always either connected to social media through her phone, or is in bed binge watching TV shows like that goddamn ‘Pretty Little Liars’.  I’m actually staring to worry about her neck posture as her head is always tilted towards a screen.  But I would venture to guess her internet use would be comparable to anyone else her age.

For my father, probably the most knowledgeable about technology in the house, our internet connection functions as a means for both work and relaxing.  His study is home to the almighty router and is the central hub for all tech in our family.  Thanks to his interest in computers and the internet, we have been fortunate enough to not still be on terrible plans or dial-up like I’ve read in some other people’s posts.

Being the tech-wiz he is, all problems with the internet are directly straight at Dad.  The connection dropped out – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  The lights are flashing but there’s no signal – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  My computer is running slow – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  Now obviously these problem are in no way his fault, but it’s always nice to be able to throw them onto someone else.

He started his career in computing back in the early 80’s and has work closely with the industry since, so I thought it would be a good idea to see his take on how the internet and our interactions with it have changed over time.

He spoke about societies move from “once picking up the phone and having ‘dial-tone’, to the concept now being called ‘web-tone’.”  Just like it was expected for people to have a landline to be contacted on in their home, we are now expected to be contactable via the internet.

“Everyone now has the internet, everyone is expected to be on the internet.  If your modem goes out, it’s a massive drama.  You expect always to be connected when you pick up any of your devices, whether it’s a laptop or mobile phone or PlayStation.”

“We’ve gone beyond the phone now, beyond ‘dial-tone’ it’s not important anymore because everyone uses their mobile phone or they use the internet to communicate with each other.  So the landline phone is now becoming pretty well redundant.  The only thing you use the phone line for now is your ADSL-2 connection… to the internet.”

Dad was able to watch the internet from its very beginning, and he said that while we have seen some much expansion in terms of accessibility, there are still aspects that have changed very little.  The next phase for Australia is the National Broadband Network or NBN, and term that many should be familiar with, and definitely sick of hearing by now.

While it is promising a faster and more reliable internet service for Australians, the stories coming from current users are often mixed.  There are many users having troubles with high user levels around peak times.  So I checked my area (Menai) and it’s like we have been put in this no NBN wasteland.  According to the NBN site, there aren’t even any plans for when preparation will commence.  Now, we don’t typically experience any issues with our current internet service in terms of drop-outs or lagging connections, but the promise of faster speeds gives me such great hope for the future… Maybe.

Here are a few little statistics from the ABS about Australia’s internet usage if you’re feeling extra curious.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

As a disclaimer, this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Dylan, but I do think that the quote is rather
relevant.

So, I imagine that everyone this week will be interviewing parents, grandparents and other older people whose first experience with television was in Australia.  So to find a different angle and perspective I decided to interview my very Irish mother.  My Dad, Sister and I constantly joke about how absolutely boring Irish television is whenever we are over there, so it was interesting to see what Mam thought about it as a child.

We’ve never really spoke about her television viewing as a child before, I guess it just wasn’t something that I thought held a great deal of influence over my own.  But the more we discussed about the media when she was growing up, the more I realised many of the parallels I could draw between the two.

Mam spent her childhood in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny; a river-side town about two hours south of Dublin; and one of my favourite places in the world.  Growing up as the youngest in a family with seven siblings, TV was a more central part of her entertainment than that of her older brothers and sisters.

I think one of the most remarkable things about our exchange was the incredible detail she could recall about different elements of her experience.  The space in which the TV inhabited is now drastically different to where I’m familiar with it sitting in her childhood house.  So hearing her talk about how it used to be was really intriguing.

The main TV in the house was placed next to the record player in the “sitting room”.  Around the black and white set made by PYE was a photo of my Grandad in his younger years (a photo that sits in that room to this day), and a blue and white delft vase with white plastic chrysanthemums.

Television in Ireland wasn’t broadcasted during the day with children’s programs beginning at 4:55pm.  There was only a single television channel, RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann), with all programs being introduced by a “beautiful lady called Thelma Mansfield”.

It wouldn’t be Ireland if there wasn’t some heavy catholic presence, so at 6pm on the dot every night the bells rang out for the Angelus prayer.  This was followed by the news, in English then followed by Irish.  She laughed about how that if anyone were to speak during the news my Grandad would go “bonkers”, cupping his hand around his ear and shushing everyone so he could hear.  Broadcasting finished with a goodnight message in Irish from Thelma… “Oíche mhaith agus codladh sámh” (Goodnight and sleep peacefully) at 11:30pm, a phrase that she uses every night with my sister and I.

One thing that Mam spoke very fondly about was how when they were younger, she and her older brother Kieran would be “snuggled” into the armchair together and watch ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ films at 6:30pm on a Sunday.  A funny coincidence as when my sister and I were younger, we too would share the experience of watching ‘Saturday Disney’ on a Saturday morning religiously.  But maybe that just goes to prove what a grip Disney has on the children’s entertainment market.

While we do share some similarities in how we view television, it’s also very apparent just how much is different.  The way we consume media has changed dramatically between our childhoods, so it will be interesting to observed the differences that occur between my early years and that of my offspring. .

Obligatory Introductory Post-ory ;)

Sooooooooo introductions, eh?

Although I have already written a welcome type post on this blog, it was a year and a half ago for BCM110.  So I do suppose that another wouldn’t hurt at all.  I’m Conor (I know right, what a shocker, the name of the blog wasn’t lying holy shit), and I’m a second year B Media & Communications/ B International Studies student majoring in Advertising, Marketing & PR.

My role in the ‘media space’ is that of a near addict.  I am constantly on my phone refreshing various social media platforms in fear that I’ll miss out on something if I look away.  However, most of the time it is usually like the fridge at home, in that you keep opening it but nothing ever changes. (Even now, trying to write this post has me checking back and forth through tabs of facebook and instagram.)

It’s funny to think that I’m part of the last group of people who will know what it’s like to grow up without the internet being a a major part of childhood.  Kind of like the last group to not have a device in their hand at birth.  All the time I see people uploading photos of a group of friends together, but they’re all on their phones.  Through the media we have become more and less connected than ever before, and that’s a scary thought for human interactions to come.

So without sounding like a middle-aged ‘mommy’ blogger posting inspirational quotes, let’s see what the future holds for my media space and presence.