When I first wrote about Joachim Schmid I asked several questions about the current state of mass image making; with all of the images that exist, is their continued proliferation necessary especially in a time now where cell phones now have cameras? We are producing more images than ever, could the reliance on images and visual material alter our vocabularies and the evolution of our ways of communication? Is this all just one more metaphoric example of how we do things impulsively and fill our lives with objects that we tend to store away and ignore until we decide to clean house? So the next time you aim the cell phone camera or put the Leica to your eye, consider what it is that you are bringing into this world. Is it necessary? Will you love it and take care of it? Or will they fall into the hands of others to see what we can no longer see?
Schmid has continued his investigation into the habits of amateur photography with a series of Blurb produced "Black" books. The project "Other People's Photographs" came about by trolling the internet for material on image sharing sites like Flickr and using keywords to find patterns of photographic behavior "focusing on the repetition of word, rather than the repetition of image. These are books about photography but from a more “light-hearted” perspective."
The first in this "Black Book" series is called When Boredom Strikes and it holds 156 photos and captions made when the "photographer" was bored. Boredom causes people to point the camera where ever and however the impulse directs - at shoes, at pets, at the ceiling, at the fabric patters of their pants. In some ways these pictures are experiments on the part of the taker and in other ways they are disposable images made just to fill time. Often full of humor and "light-hearted" as Schmid describes but, as a whole, the book is loaded with sadness. The subtext of the amount of boredom at work, at play, in everyday life can't be ignored. One image even is of a man's penis while he is masturbating. We have become a society that is even bored while masturbating.
On a positive level one could say that when we are bored is when we actually start to really examine our environments. This book proves that we are at least inquisitive to "see" through photography what those surroundings look like in photos but I doubt that most of these images would be considered a second time by the taker at later dates. Whether or not this is true, they are here for us to consider.
When Boredom Strikes is the size of a hardcover novel, vertical in format and printed in text quality black and white. By reducing all of the images to black and white, Schmid levels the field of good to bad photos. The captions reveal various attitudes and oddly, many seem to be apologetic in referring to their "creations" made while boredom struck. In combination with these apologies and the fact that these were posted to image sharing websites is a curious means of admittance.
Behavior and photography is endlessly fascinating now that everything has a camera attached to it. The images may not be often worthy of serious consideration for many viewers (although Schmid would argue the exact opposite I am sure) but when collected and presented as a common impulse, we see where we connect and what that connection says about us. It is a group portrait of sorts, for better or for worse.
Note: For other series, check out Schmid's "White" books and the limited "Grey" versions as well. http://schmid.wordpress.com/