Camera Blocks Cliched Location Shots


A new camera concept attempts to block shots taken in predictable tourist locations. But the Camera Restricta is meant as an art project rather than a commercial product.

The camera is the work of designer Philipp Schmitt who specialises in art projects relating to technhology. He’s previously explored the vast increase in photography with the rise of digital shots and cameraphones, including a project which overlaid ‘ghost’ images of photographers to represent their position when photographing a popular location.

His new work takes that a step further by developing a camera which finds its location via GPS and then searches online for shots geotagged as having been taken within 35 meters. As the user moves the camera around, it makes a clicking sound whenever it passes over a place somebody has previously taken a shot, creating a Geiger counter-like effect. If too many shots have been taken in the location, the camera automatically closes the shutter and blocks any attempt to take a picture.

While there’s clearly little chance anyone would want to use such a camera for real, Schmitt hopes it will spark thought and debate about a couple of aspects of photography. One is the tendency for people to photograph the same locations over and over, though Schmitt suggests it could be a game to be the first person to photograph a particular place, or the last to do so before triggering the “too many shots” limit.

The second element of the project is as a commentary on recent discussions in Europe over proposals to declare some more-recently built landmarks as being in copyright and in turn ban them from being used in commercial photographs without the permission of the architect concerned. (The proposals were roundly rejected by politicians in the European Parliament.)

Tourist Photos Around Popular Landmarks from Philipp Schmitt on Vimeo.