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When You Point It At A Cliché, This Camera Censors Itself

Camera Restricta prevents photographers from taking a picture if it thinks too many other people have shot the same thing.

Photographers often complain that the major thing that has been lost in the transition to digital is deliberation. Analog cameras were like six-shooters: you had to aim your shots carefully. But digital cameras are like machine guns with infinite ammo. You can spray photos everywhere. Camera Restricta is a new kind of camera by German designer Phillipp Schmitt that aims to make you be more deliberate with your shots, whether you like it or not.

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It’s an app plus camera enclosure that knows where you are in the real world. When you try to take a picture, Camera Restricta uses GPS to identify where you are, and compare your location to other geotagged photos online within about a 115 square-foot-radius. If too many other people have taken a picture where you are, Camera Restricta won’t let you make your shot. The camera features a really clever audio cue to signal to its owner that photos are restricted: like a geiger counter, a clicking sound indicates when a location is photographically radioactive. Then the lens retracts.

As a commentary on generic photography, Schmitt’s camera explores what it means for the invisible algorithms in our digital cameras to actively work against us. “Algorithms are already looking through the viewfinder alongside with you: they adjust settings, scan faces, and take a photo when you smile,” he says. “What if your grin wasn’t the only thing they cared about?”

Camera Restricta is also a comment on government censorship of photos. In July, the European Parliament voted on a controversial proposal that would have restricted the ability of tourists to take photographs of copyrighted buildings and sculptures, even in public places. The measure was defeated, but the point Schmitt is making with Camera Restricta is that if such a law were enacted, it could easily be implemented, just by a silent over-the-air update to your smartphone or tablet.

You can download the open-source app and check out Camera Restricta’s project page here.

[via Creative Applications]

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