Advertising Intrusion

There are two primary types of vacationers: those who want to do absolutely nothing and those who want to see and do it all. If you are part of group number two, then you probably have a jam-packed agenda and have a camera ready to go with extra memory cards (film?). You absolutely must have a visual memento of seeing Trevi Fountain in Rome. Be prepared to bring home more in those photos than you thought was there.

How would you feel if, when you got back home to check out your pictures, there was a giant brand logo of Nike, Gatorade, Prada, IBM, or whatever, plastered over your perfectly composed image of the fountain? What if there was a giant package of Velveeta cheese as a backdrop on your shot of the Eiffel Tower? It wasn’t there when you snapped the picture. But every standard tourist picture that you grabbed is now a marketing vehicle. Yep, there’s technology to do this right now. And Julius von Bismarck’s ‘Image Fulgurator’ is directly to blame.

Essentially, the device waits until it senses a flash. Don’t think that a flash means that only night shots will be affected. Most of you use a flash all the time for all the wrong reasons. Just think of all the flashes going off in a football stadium… When that flash is sensed, the device fires off a flash of it’s own right back at the camera trying to take a picture. The would be Ansel Adams never sees it happen because it happens so fast.

The device is a modified camera — in this case, an old manual Minolta SLR. A flashgun fires through the camera in reverse, from the back. The flash picks up the image of a slide inside and projects it out through the lens and onto any surface.

The trick is in the triggering. The Fulgurator lies in wait until an unsuspecting photographer takes a picture using a flash. When the device’s sensor sees this flash, it fires its own unit, throwing up an image which is captured by the hapless photographer’s camera while remaining unseen by the naked eye.

Now, imagine for a moment that an ad agency gets hold of this. You couldn’t take a photograph of a tourist attraction ever again without worrying that some marketing crap would be pushed into your camera. As Julius told me, “I see it as a piece of media art. It could be a dangerous attack on media. [But] if people do shit with it, I feel bad.”

What do you mean if? Shouldn’t that be when?


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