Camera Restricta, to share or not to share


Camera Restricta, by artist Philipp Schmitt, is a camera prototype that simplifies the search for new views of the most visited places. The entirely 3D-printed device consists of a machine that holds a smartphone equipped with an open-source app. After intercepting the location via built-in GPS, the application looks for all photos taken in the 35 square meters surrounding the potential trigger point, using an algorithm that analyzes the metadata of images published on Flickr and Panoramio. If the results of the research are very numerous the device prevents additional shots using a number of strategies. An alert sound (similar to that of a Geiger counter) suggests the existence of many images taken from the perspective in question and a red ‘X’ is superimposed on the view through the viewfinder. More definitively, the shutter button is mechanically locked to prevent capture of the shot. Why would we use a tool that limits our freedom to photograph? According to Philipp Schmitt the rationale is to support photographers in finding unusual angles to capture first, or to give them the opportunity to take the final picture of a place (a specific alert warns of this option). In addiction, the artist offers Camera Restricta as a tool of censorship, maybe to support institutional initiatives, such as the recent (and unapproved) proposal by the European Commission concerning the legality of panorama, which would limit our freedom to take pictures of monuments due to copyright. However this latter clarification triggers a deeper reflection: the opportunity to share photos (and their metadata) online may be inversely proportional to the freedom of actually taking personal shots without any limitation. Chiara Ciociola

Camera Restricta