Digital cameras make it easy to take a photo with a single button but is the simplicity of modern cameras turning us all into robots? That is what the artists behind the Trophy Camera want to get people thinking about with a custom camera that will not let users take a “bad” photo.
Using artificial intelligence to compare the potential shot to the winning images from over 50 years of World Press Photo winners, the Trophy Camera will only record an image when the view shares at least 90 percent of the characteristics of those award winners. Images that the computer thinks are newsworthy are automatically uploaded to a website.
Dries Depoorter, an artist, and Max Pinckers, a photographer and Ph.D. student, designed Trophy Camera as a statement on how automatic cameras fill the web with photos that all look similar. In fact, the artists designed the camera without a viewfinder intentionally as a statement on how individual creativity has fallen by the wayside. “Cameras are becoming more automatized every day, with capabilities of producing ‘perfect pictures’ with the push of a button,” Pinckers told Fast Co. Design, “which leaves less room for creative interventions within the program defined by machines and technology, and therefore only creates redundant imagery.”
The camera isn’t designed to sell to the masses, but as an art installation held in Belgium last month. The gadget was built with Rasberry Pi, a system designed to teach anyone how to code, along with the HD camera module, a power bank, a small OLED display and a plastic casing that almost resembles a heavy duty flashlight.
“By making this camera,” Pinckers said, “we try to implicitly comment on the current status of photojournalism — which seems to be becoming more questionable in today’s visual landscape — along with the incredibly fast development of computer vision and the relevance of artificial intelligence in our time.”
The camera is designed to get photographers thinking about how modern media has influenced the field, from which photos are published to the way technology is biased toward a certain image standard. Ironically, the images the system selected are typically blurry and included photos of a photo, since the camera was only shot during the gallery exhibition. But the camera serves as a commentary on changes in the industry as well as the influence of technology on imagery as a whole.