When I was travelling around Australia with my girlfriend at the beginning of 2016 I was enjoying myself with the panoramic photo option on my iPhone. I like taking panoramic photos. Even though the center of the photo always comes out more pronounced than the rest, it captures an expansive environment so much better than a regular picture. And then someone walked through the shot. I don’t know whether you ever took a panoramic photo with people moving through the shot but it creates some weird results.
As you can see, the woman moving through the shot is deformed. At first I thought: damn, the photo is ruined! And I almost deleted it. But then I thought: this is actually cool! It’s like art! From that moment on I started to deliberately take panoramic pictures with people moving through them. Sometimes the effect was subtle, sometimes it got very surreal.
Now the question begs: is this art? And if so, why? When did it become art and who is the artist?
Is it art because I consider it to be art? Does it need validation from others before it can be considered art? Did the first picture become art the moment I took the shot or when I decided to call it art? Am I the artist or is the guy who developed the algorithm for the panoramic shots the artist? Or maybe both?
Apart from now having a blast with creating these shots, I find it an interesting philosophical exercise to really contemplate about these questions. If I had thrown away the photo because it got ‘ruined’ by the woman walking through I never would have been writing this article or have been pondering about all this. I would probably have avoided having moving people in my panoramic shots. Now I welcome them. Without the algorithm for making these shots I would never have been able to create them so I believe the person who programmed it definitely owes some credit in creating these. Thinking along those lines, the people who made the hardware on which the algorithm runs probably owe some credit too then. It’s turning out to become one massive collaborative project 🙂 With most of the collaborators not even being aware they contributed to some, for me at least, pretty cool art project that is bringing quite a bit of fun to my life.
Also published on Medium.