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Unpredictability in everyday photography: A case study

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Modern technology is pervading all aspects of our everyday lives. With its focus on optimization, and through the growing adoption of content personalization, these technologies – in their attempts for relevancy and efficiency – are decreasing the role of chance and luck in our interactions with the Digital Medium, leading to a reduced potential for serendipitous experiences. This is exemplified in the post-smartphone photography. With the growing popularity of camera-enabled devices, photography has become commonplace: a trivial, routinely and mindlessly engaged practice. The photography act, due to the ever-increasing capacity of these devices to accurately record an image of the real, has become a series of brief, predictable actions, without much thought or consideration on the whole interaction. Through the exploration of the concept of defamiliarization, we intend to restore a sense on uncertainty and randomness to the quotidian photographic moment. To this end, we created an experimental smartphone application that randomly, and without the interactor’s control, transforms and manipulates a given photograph – thus making it unfamiliar – and allowing for surprise to be once more part of the process while increasing the engagement between photographer, subject and created image. We have also begun preliminary evaluations which have showed a positive impact of the concepts of this experimental application in the creative process.
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Keywords: defamiliarization; interaction design; photography; randomness; serendipity; user experience

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Porto

Publication date: 01 June 2016

More about this publication?
  • Ubiquity is an international peer reviewed journal for creative and transdisciplinary practitioners interested in technologies, practices and behaviours that have the potential to radically transform human perspectives on the world. "Ubiquity", the ability to be everywhere at the same time, a potential historically attributed to the occult is now a common feature of the average mobile phone. The title refers explicitly to the advent of ubiquitous computing that has been hastened through the consumption of networked digital devices. The journal anticipates the consequences for design and research in a culture where everyone and everything is connected, and will offer a context for visual artists, designers, scientists and writers to consider how Ubiquity is transforming our relationship with the world.
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