Symbolic Camera


My symbolic camera epitomizes the ‘art’ of capturing yourself in the twenty-first century: the selfie stick. It also demonstrates my journey into visual anthropology. Perhaps naively, before studying visual anthropology, I assumed that the camera only captured everything in front of it. Since learning more about the sub discipline I’ve come to understand that the film is just as much about me as it is my subjects. Prior to learning about ethnographic film, I thought that distance from the subject was necessary to achieve objective documentary of an event or topic. However, ethnographic film is inherently intimate and if not physically, part of me will be in the shot: either through a decision of camera angle, the choice to film something, the edit or narrative. The hyper-reflexivity of ethnographic film therefore lead me to producing an ironic symbol of the present day photographer possessed with vanity and self-obsession ready to materialize every experience into a social media post. However, the camera maintained its modesty, I refrained from using colour, to try and retain some strands of rationality and fact – the colour scheme matches its equivocal root:

‘A black-and-white subject or situation is one in which it is easy to understand what is right and wrong’ –

Therefore with irony and reflexivity, I present my symbolic camera:

Selfie Stick

Sculpted wood, 48 x 16 cm

Acrylic Paint, Danish Oil Finish


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