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Friday, 28 December 2018


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Since the adults got us to where we are today, I welcome our new child overlords. I only hope they get here in time.

But yes, we are in the age of distraction with our phones and the internet and social media. I was thinking a nice government service would be to just dial it down for people once in a while, to make it not work as well, so they just say oh well, put the phones away, and do something else for a while.

I detest all selfie sticks with an intensity bordering on rage.

As much as I'd like to blame (I would- I really would) all our woes on Millennials... we really need to look in the mirror a bit (ie- A Whole Lot) longer:



I really don't understand the craze for selfies. My friends know what I look like, and they really don't care. Strangers care even less. Does anyone think the Mona Lisa will be improved by having their face intruding into the frame?

Knocking over the art installation like dominoes just needs to be retitled. It is now called 'performance art'.

Selphie disasters have become good fun for the Internet version of the press. But, frankly, I really think it's quite overblown. Of course people have been the greatest hazard to artworks on display since...well, since artworks were displayed! But I don't think that the selphie has made them more dangerous to art.

During the past ten years or so I've been able to visit many major (and not-so-major) art museums and collections, mainly in North America. If I had to cite the greatest hazards to art in exhibition I would offer a short list of four other more hazardous points.

(1) Backpacks. For some reason young people seem to feel the need to carry much of their possessions on their backs these days, as if they were hitchhiking across the country. Wearing such often enormous luggage on one's back in a museum is an invitation to inadvertent disaster. Some museums now require that visitors check them before admission. Others require that they at least be worn in front of the body where the wearer can be more mindful of their position. Museums that take no preventative actions are just begging for innocent and costly disaster.

(2) Thinly staffed or inattentive gallery guard staffs. The top art museums have well-trained and quite senior protective services staffs. They are usually given good orientation on an exhibition's attributes during its installation and are closely supervised. Not necessarily so for the lower tiers of museums. Look, being a museum guard is boring. But it's essential that you pay close attention to every visitor and intervene early when necessary. (Fun fact: some loan agreements actually specify the continuous proximity radius of guards.)

(3) Inattentive parents This is self-explanatory.

(4) Stupid, unimaginative exhibition designs. Top museums tend to have the best and most experienced designers who are usually well-aware of the hazards that can be built into a show. (Like nobody imagined that those pedestals could be accidentally toppled in a chain reaction?) It's also been my observation that art museum visitors tend to be generally pretty darn careful when visiting shows.

But sometimes the show's design seems positively dastardly. The most frequent example I can immediately cite is the tripping hazard in a dimly-lit gallery. A typical example would be a nearly-invisible rope on a short stanchion placed at the base of a single work. You're just not looking for it as you approach. This hazard is amplified by wall labels set in type that would be hard to read in a newspaper, so you must get closer...and closer...until you trip forward and....! I've seen this at the best of museums. (Special excuse: The rope is often not part of the exhibition design but rather ordered after installation by nervous -and stupid- insurers during an obligatory late walk-through.)

Selphies? Yes, in a museum anything that draws visitors' attention away from their line of motion is a potential hazard. But they're a much greater hazard for traffic and circulation that for most art.

Selfie sticks, also known as wands of narcissism, are banned in many major museums. See also bans on backpacks and tripods.

There's a certain irony here. Like many other people I've been pulled up countless times for taking photos with a camera, but never with a phone...

Mike, you've removed the lid from an enormous bag of cats with your comment regarding adults and the lack thereof. It is an insightful comment which has caused my brain to travel in multiple directions in search of examples and possible solutions. I urge you to follow up this line of thought in one of your future off topic discourses so we may also benefit from the comments of your sage readership.

No, no, no ... how silly!

Everyone knows that cameras suck in and capture the souls of the photographed. That's why cameras were seen with suspicion in the good ol' days, and actively avoided in many cases. In some eastern cultures people would only allow their photo to be taken if they could be holding a doll that would serve as a surrogate soul-suckee.

The problem is that these newfangled camera monitors and viewfinders, especially the electronic kind, have amplified soul-sucking power. It is actually terrifying to think about. We have all these zombies running around zapping themselves while mindlessly sucking in every last drop of soul and intelligence left in the world. And take it from me, there isn't much left. Just look at some of the most photographed people in the world, like, oh I dunno, politicians for example?

The end of the world is nigh, I tell ye!

(I don't need to post a satire alert for this, do I?)

Today the IQ of most cameras is exponentially higher than the IQ of most people ...sad, but true.

The curator at 14th Factory, a pop-up gallery, seems a little short on intellect as well. The narrow isles between the the pedestals is an accident-waiting-to-happen. Sooner, rather than later, someone eating a long churro or a giant-pretzel would have knocked them over.

No more adults? Well, now you're talkin' Robert Bly's 'The Sibling Society'. Had an impact on me when I read it, and has colored my world view ever since.

I hate selfie sticks but forget the selfies, have you seen all the morons on the road, texting while driving? Now, that is a real hazard. Argh.

“Mike replies: I'm not certain adults use smileys. Or quote Popeye. Nyuk nuk-nuk-nuk. :-)”

Talk about mixed messages... Sheesh! Answering a comment about Popeye with a quote from Curly!

Have a happy New Year, Mike!

Those idiots who get hit by trains... photo types or just other selfish jerks.
Have a son who is an Engineer who is getting PTSD counseling after 5 deaths of jerks on the tracks with him driving the train. Most of the engineers who have had the misfortune of hitting people have mental scars as a result. They can SEE the people - sound the airhorn all they want and slam on brakes - but it takes a long time for all that weight to stop.
The deaths hit the train operators hard and in a number of instances result in the engineers quitting, taking early retirement of years of counseling.
Photo or just an idiot or a suicide - there are more victims than just the person hit by the train.

Whatever technology creates, nature employs to further the process of evolution. Self obsession is clearly not a survival trait, once armed with a smart phone and a selfie stick.

At least the collateral damage is lower than with a few other inventions I could think of, such as firearms, motor cars and recreational drugs.

While I do feel terrible for the families of these fools who fall off cliffs, into rivers, over waterfalls, off of buildings, and get run over by trains I can’t help but think of this as a kind of natural selection—the kind of thing illuminated by the Darwin Awards. I mean, really. For those who survive but “merely” cause damage or great expense and endangerment of others (to save their moronic butts) I think they should be made to bear the full cost of the consequences to others and society in general. I imagine it would take many lifetimes to pay off the cost of a ruined Warhol. Helicopters used for search and rescue for those who wander into the mountains wearing shorts without food, water, protective clothing or shelter (but do bring their cellphones for selfies and to call to be picked up when endangered) have pretty high hourly running times. The bill for these should be blasted out over Instagram for all to see. That’s reality, dude—consequences are real.

This post and people's comments really made me laugh, Mike.

There's something about the compulsion to photograph one's own self these days that is immensely - what? Interesting? Sick? Symptomatic? Pathological? The way of the world? It didn't use to be this way, I'm pretty sure. Why this, why now?

I remember when I was utterly fascinated by the results as I photographed everything and anything with my new Pentax K-1000. I included maybe one self-portrait in the hundreds of pictures I made with that camera, but the subject of my pics was almost always other people or various places and things. Sports, nature, the world. That is what photography was.

How long before the picture-taking public works this out of its system and we get back to picturing the world out there and not just ourselves in it?

Thanks for a good laugh,
Jeff Clevenger

A friend saw a bumper sticker the other day on the back end of a car driven by a young female. The sticker said, "Of all the things I love in the world, I love myself the best."

As for museums, if you put expensive things on public display and then invite thousands of people in to have a look, you're just asking for trouble. :)

Oh how I do agree with Steve Rosenblum, about the idiots he refers to.
I'm not sure when film cameras began to be fitted with 'self timers, or delayed action' as Leitz called it. Perhaps, in the case of Leitz, the 111D of late 1940s. The very first M3 bodies of 1954 did not have it but my 1955 M3 has it together with the smaller frame lines selector lever, although these delectable accessories could also be retrospectively fitted by the factory.
Now, "selfie sticks" used with digital cameras seem to me to be the preserve of the modern 'Chav' as is their proliferation. Something, in my view, to be deprecated.

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