Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't be a self-centered zombie visual anthropologist

Today in Vis Anth class we were discussing Susan Sontag's "On Photography" (1977); in particular we were talking about how the action of taking photographs affects the scene being photographed. Certainly the act of photographing makes the scene even more important, something worth commemorating. What we as visual anthropologists want to do is to reduce our interference and invading of the scene. By coincidence there was an interesting article in Japan Today entitled "Self-centered zombies running rampant through Japanese society" that provided some good examples of interference/invasion.

During the Japan Open golf tournament held in mid-October, 18-year-old pro golf prodigy Ryo Ishikawa botched his swing on a bunker shot for a double bogey.

It may have been shutter noise emitted from the cell phone cameras brandished by the horde of adoring spectators that interfered with his concentration. Subsequent to that, staff at the country club went into the crowd to plead that spectators refrain from picture-taking. But ring tones and shutter noises continued right up to the final hole.


A certain Ms A and her female friend women were partaking a meal in an upscale Italian restaurant when she noticed the couple at the neighboring table using a cell phone camera to shoot pictures of their food—probably to post on his blog. The boyfriend looked over at the dish “A” was eating and said, “Wow, that really looks tasty,” and then without warning approached her table and snapped photos of her meal.

“I was too shocked to say anything, but thinking about it afterwards, I really felt humiliated,” she tells the magazine.

The article discusses these and other scenarios as examples of bad manners in Japan. Self-centered zombies, as if in time for Halloween, are running amok. Avoid such interference/invasion and don't be a self-centered zombie visual anthropologist, not even for Halloween only.

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