chapter  6
13 Pages

iPhone Photography: Mediating Visions of Social Space


Cameras have colonized the mobile phone over the past decade. Todayfi fteen years after Swiss inventor Philippe Kahn jerry-rigged a mobile phone with a digital camera to circulate images of his newborn daughter-no phone is complete without a camera, and more phone cameras are now sold than any other kind of camera. Indeed, the mobile phone company who can now lay claim to being the world’s largest camera maker, Nokia, has reportedly put more cameras into people’s hands than in the whole previous history of photography.1 Most citizens of the developed world now carry at least one camera at all times, capable not only of recording and displaying images but also instantly sharing them, via the internet or messaging services. This radically new development has generated equal measures of enthusiasm and anxiety. For instance, as much as phone cameras enable forms of intimacy at a distance and are celebrated as devices of on-the-spot “citizen” photojournalism-such as during the 2009 Iran elections, or following the 2011 Japanese earthquake-they are also intertwined with larger social anxieties about privacy in an age of digital dissemination. This chapter looks at the iPhone as the exemplary instance of the mobile phone’s convergence with the camera, as a device that casts the potential capabilities and aff ordances of camera phones in stark relief. It considers the distinctive qualities of iPhone photography and explores both everyday and innovative uses of the device by ordinary users as well as artists and activists.