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Stranger Photos Have Happened
March 21, 2008 4:03 AM   Subscribe

"Good afternoon, I attached this camera to the bench so you could take pictures. Seriously. So have fun. I'll be back later this evening to pick it up. Love, Jay / The Plug". Stranger Photos Have Happened.
posted by nthdegx (57 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sort of similar to camera mail.
posted by splatta at 4:18 AM on March 21, 2008


The very best of luck to you. :)
posted by nthdegx at 4:19 AM on March 21, 2008


Thanks, splatta. Except I'd say the results are better. One smart thing Jay does, intentionally or not, is force people to take the photos outside during daylight hours. The results of the alternative can be seen in camera mail. Much less effective, imo.
posted by nthdegx at 4:27 AM on March 21, 2008


Neat post, and I enjoyed it even more when I realized it happened right up I-20 from me.
posted by TedW at 4:42 AM on March 21, 2008


That's really cool. I love that last photo.
posted by JDHarper at 5:08 AM on March 21, 2008


* Fourth from the last, rather. The one with the cute kid giving a thumbs up.
posted by JDHarper at 5:09 AM on March 21, 2008


I saw this yesterday. The stranger photos are kind of boring (everyone just photographs themselves, woo). However, the signs series is excellent.
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like this, and it would be fun to do in different locations. Inexpensive and potentially very interesting results. I just might try it out myself.
posted by genefinder at 5:17 AM on March 21, 2008


this is really weird: i recognized a friend in one of the shots. what are the odds? (I'm in MA, she's in GA)
posted by rough at 5:23 AM on March 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Great use of the disposable tag - lame post. Sorry.

Why does someone always have to do this? It certainly doesn't break any guidelines, and the vast majority of us don't give a shit about what you in particular find lame.

I thought it was a great idea, with varying results -- some of the pictures were very artistic, and some were very stupid, with all levels of in-betweenness. A 24-shot synopsis of human nature.

'Round here, someone would have just taken the damn camera.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:28 AM on March 21, 2008


Why does someone always have to do this?

My theory is a tiny invisible gremlin with a huge bladder going around and randomly pissing into unsuspecting people's cornflakes.

Great post, I really enjoyed the concept and looking at the pictures. It's nice to see people enjoying themselves and I thought some of the shots were really good.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:48 AM on March 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


> Why does someone always have to do this? It certainly doesn't break any guidelines, and the vast majority of us don't give a shit about what you in particular find lame.

It's the passive aggressive corollary to the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory - Fuckwads will always say "Sorry... " or "I hate to say this..." just before or just after being a total Fuckwad...
posted by benzo8 at 5:48 AM on March 21, 2008


Sadly, no side-stepping gnomes appeared on camera.
posted by Tube at 5:57 AM on March 21, 2008


Why does someone always have to do this?

A couple friends of mine got married a few years ago. At the reception, every table had disposable cameras on it for guests to use, in order to try capturing shots the photographer wouldn't have a chance to catch. I could try to convince my friends to post those pictures on the web. The composition of the shots would be about the same level as these, you wouldn't know any in those photos, either, and they're almost guaranteed to be a lot more exciting (at least, once the dancing and vomiting began in earnest).

You keen? I can drop them an email now.
posted by barnacles at 5:57 AM on March 21, 2008


(rather, "... you wouldn't know any people in those photos, either ...")
posted by barnacles at 5:58 AM on March 21, 2008


Why does someone always have to do this?

Yeah, and it's almost always just the one guy, isn't it? You'd imagine they have a database or at least some sort of checklist - an office where they go "hey, no-one's lazily dismissed this one yet" and their co-worker goes "no I picked that up, but you could move on to #70081" "oh dude, that one was so mine! it had a cute camera experiment and all!" etc.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:08 AM on March 21, 2008


I love when people do "weird" things like this. Very cool.
posted by Nattie at 6:16 AM on March 21, 2008


These are cute, but the last one makes my back ache just looking at it.
posted by cog_nate at 6:17 AM on March 21, 2008


Reminds me of Ji Lee's bubble project. I like.
posted by not_on_display at 6:20 AM on March 21, 2008


The cynic in me is astonished that Jay didn't come back to find his camera missing, disposable one or not.
posted by Target Practice at 6:31 AM on March 21, 2008


Even though none of these shot are particularly inspired, I still like the mix of the boring and the interesting - it's great to see what people will do when put on the spot. I'd be even more fascinated to see this in more exotic locales(ie - not like where I live). It'd be even cooler if there was a way to have digital cameras that automatically uploaded them - I know I'd regularly check a site that had continuous updates from around the world.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:35 AM on March 21, 2008


"Why does someone always have to do this?"

Probably some photographer that's pissed off because some guy leaving a cheap camera on a bench came out with better photos.

"Even though none of these shot are particularly inspired"

And that is exactly why I like them. The lack of 'artistic inspiration' is nice. Sometimes it's nice to see photos that 'just *are*' (if that makes any sense.. haven't finished my coffee yet)

Good post. This is the best thing I've seen on the web today.
posted by drstein at 6:40 AM on March 21, 2008


Oh, does anyone know where exactly this is? I see a billboard with area code 404 (Atlanta, GA) on it, so that narrows it down a bit.
posted by drstein at 6:41 AM on March 21, 2008


Why does someone always have to do this?

It was done without a lot of thought and probably should have read lame idea not lame post. The idea that the photos were being presented as art seemed ridiculous to me.

the vast majority of us don't give a shit about what you in particular find lame.

Fair enough.
posted by therubettes at 6:41 AM on March 21, 2008


Dr. Stein: (I know a Dr. Stein: Lisa?) it's at the intersection of Virginia and Highland, literally the center of Virginia Highlands. I recognized it immediately, I used to work a block away from there.
posted by reallymadcow at 6:47 AM on March 21, 2008


A girl in blueberry tights standing in front of a sign that reads "High End Gifts for Men" made it worthwhile to me.

The idea that the photos were being presented as art seemed ridiculous to me.

Well the idea that your opinion was being presented as worth reading was ridiculous to me so it all works out.
posted by dobbs at 6:48 AM on March 21, 2008


I know I'd regularly check a site that had continuous updates from around the world.


Webcams. Lotsa them around.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:51 AM on March 21, 2008


The general public got handed an anonymous camera and got through all twenty-seven exposures without a single shot of genitalia?

I'm impressed.

And disappointed.
posted by MrVisible at 6:52 AM on March 21, 2008


And no rude hand gestures either, unless ATL stands for something I'm unaware of.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:57 AM on March 21, 2008


dobbs, "High End Gifts for Men" is actually Highland Gifts For Men, probably named for its address, as reallymadcow pointed out, at the intersection of Virginia and Highland, in the district creatively refered to as "Virginia Highlands."

I like the idea. It's fun, even if they're not the most artistic photos.
posted by notashroom at 7:02 AM on March 21, 2008


This is a sweet idea and this is why I love the internet. Back in the old days, if we tied a disposable camera to a bench and developed the film, no one would really get to see the pictures except the five people who picked up that carefully xeroxed zine from the record store in Little Five Points. And then, too, the pictures would be black and white and all chopped up. It was still fun, but it was very exclusive fun and it seemed that a lot less people bothered to do goofy stuff like this. Yes, there has always been some of it, mail art and all that kind of thing but considerably less, I think, than there is today.

Now that someone can tie a camera to a bench, have a lot of people take pictures and lots and lots of other people can then look at them and comment on the banality, the cuteness, the artsiness, the sudden appearance of the old friend (that is so cool,) the whatever, it makes it more likely that more people will then go out and do projects like this one. More people doing odd, random, participatory, whatever you want to call them vaguely art projects like tying cameras to benches strikes me anyway as a Good Thing and one that makes all of our lives more interesting and more fun.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:50 AM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I hate to do this...

My thought looking at the pictures which I greatly enjoyed, where is this? Oh, look there's Highland Gifts for Men, I'll just go over to their website and...

The Plug indeed.

Actually, even if it was some super creative kind of viral marketing, I enjoyed it. Must be the lack of piss in my cornflakes.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:09 AM on March 21, 2008


I looked at each picture and honestly didn’t see any of the things that other saw. Such as:

A 24-shot synopsis of human nature.
A nice 'lack of 'artistic inspiration'.
A likeable 'mix of the boring and the interesting.'


I think the photos are almost uniformly unremarkable and it surprises me to see them get such a positive reaction.

I should have given some constructive criticism instead of an off-hand dismissal.
posted by therubettes at 8:11 AM on March 21, 2008


I'm shocked that there isn't a single picture of anyone's ass. Must be a nicer neighborhood than mine.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:12 AM on March 21, 2008


Thanks....good post...

I actually tried this once.. ... but when I returned in the evening my Nikon D-80 was missing....
posted by HuronBob at 8:15 AM on March 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


therubettes, the point is the process not the product. I don't think anyone is suggesting that these pictures be given archival acid free mats and thin black frames and gallery space. No, they're not super brilliant but then they're not being presented as art in and of themselves. It's the project, the experience and the participation that makes it art.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:21 AM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see any claims on the site that these photos are supposed to be art. They're simply the results of what happened when random people were given the opportunity to more-or-less anonymously take a photo of their choice for a completely anonymous remote third party.

Also, I love the one with the little girl and adult woman flashing the peace signs. It broke me out in a smile.
posted by owtytrof at 8:24 AM on March 21, 2008


I don't see any claims on the site that these photos are supposed to be art.

There arent any that I saw. I was referring to the post being tagged art.

They're simply the results of what happened when random people were given the opportunity to more-or-less anonymously take a photo of their choice for a completely anonymous remote third party.

Maybe that's why I didnt feel it was original or interesting. We already see that every day on the internet. Random people posting anonymous photos of their choice for a completely anonymous remote third party.

It's the project, the experience and the participation that makes it art.

Maybe I would have felt differently if I had seen the camera tied to a bench, though I would almost certainly have had the same reaction as I did to the post.
posted by therubettes at 8:40 AM on March 21, 2008


I personally think this project is adorable, though I can see why therubettes wouldn't consider it necessarily art. It doesn't have to be art. The OP tagged it art so that when people browsed the "art" tag they might come upon this photography project. I don't imagine the tag "photographyproject" gets much exposure. It seems a bit pedantic to hinge an entire derail on a single tag, doesn't it?
posted by Phire at 8:53 AM on March 21, 2008


It seems a bit pedantic to hinge an entire derail on a single tag, doesn't it?

It does, though that's not exactly why I made the comment, I take your point.
posted by therubettes at 9:07 AM on March 21, 2008


I am a big fan of this post. The photos are not technically proficient, and the concept is not going to start a revolution, but it is a series of created images that generated conversation which (IMO) is one of the trademarks of an artistic project.

I like the fact that nobody stole the camera.

I like the fact that nobody took a picture of their butt.

I like the fact that three people gathered their creativity to spell out A-T-L with their arms.

I like the fact that people are smiling/happy/kissing. No middle fingers.

I like the fact that those people encountered some weird thing in their day that required them to think about being creative and they had to stand there for a second with their finger on the shutter and say "Hmmmm...what should I take a picture of" on their way to work or the bus or coffee or whatever.

Made me happy.

Signed,
Shiny McHappypants apparently.
posted by Overzealous at 9:47 AM on March 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is a great resource for the ethnography of the American white urbanite. The heterosexual, American white urbanite.

I like the pics, don't get me wrong, and this is more creative than anything I've ever done; I'm just a little disappointed that the site chosen was so...safe.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:53 AM on March 21, 2008


To everyone who said something like "surprised the camera was still there" and "can't believe there were no pictures of genitalia":

This is a heavily policed, upscale hipster neighborhood in Atlanta. If you did this same experiment a few miles away in any direction the camera would most surely have been filled with nasty pictures and/or stolen.
posted by nzero at 10:24 AM on March 21, 2008


This is a heavily policed, upscale hipster neighborhood in Atlanta.

I'm surprised the bomb squad wasn't called in to destroy the "suspicious looking device" attached to the park bench.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:43 AM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw this in another website, but with a few differences that made it better.

The camera would shoot automatically.
The camera was hidden.
The camera was a videocamera.
The camera was in a girl's locker room.
The girls were naked.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2008


I'm surprised the bomb squad wasn't called in to destroy the "suspicious looking device" attached to the park bench.

No, no, this was in Atlanta, not Boston.
posted by nzero at 12:43 PM on March 21, 2008


rough - you have to complete the circle and let him/her know you saw it. Although there might be fun to be had putting it rather more cryptically.
posted by nthdegx at 12:59 PM on March 21, 2008


So the website is "The Plug". I guess either they just had to "pull the plug" for fun, or they've got one up their butt about people looking at their content.
posted by mr. creosote at 1:24 PM on March 21, 2008


Link is 403. Anyone have a mirror?
posted by marble at 2:50 PM on March 21, 2008


I've been forbidden. What did I do?
posted by tehloki at 4:29 PM on March 21, 2008


Ya'll had to break it before I could see it.

Guess we don't have cameras.
posted by artifarce at 6:04 PM on March 21, 2008


I wish I had read these latter comments. I took the Forbidden personally. I even called my therapist.
posted by tcv at 7:16 PM on March 21, 2008


Forbidden
You don't have permission to access /28/strangerphotos.htm on this server.


Rats. Guess I'll have to go back to mocking strangers.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:27 PM on March 21, 2008


He really should have kept doing it until he amassed some interesting pictures. The concept isn't exciting enough to stand on its own.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:18 PM on March 21, 2008


Looks like it's back up this AM.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2008


In England it would have been stolen
posted by A189Nut at 11:34 AM on March 22, 2008


All you folks saying "it would have been stolen in my (neighborhood/city/country)" must have not noticed that it is tied to the bench with a piece of string. Nobody could steal something that's tied to a bench!
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:07 PM on March 25, 2008


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