Despite our proclivity to both take photos and be featured in them, we often make the mistake of not looking at the camera directly when being photographed or not showing a pleasant expression. Because of these “human errors”, millions of photos taken on camera phones or digital cameras are deleted each year with the effort of the photographer lost to these mistakes. In a study conducted in 2020 by OnePoll and Western Digital of over 2,000 Americans, it was found that 41% of those interviewed actively avoid deleting photos and videos from their devices.
Compounded by the fact that most people’s photos are not stored on their devices themselves, but now in the cloud, the proclivity and need to delete images has diminished because they are no longer taking up valuable storage space. When asked why they are keeping these images, those surveyed explained that they "may end up needing the images at some point". Another 35% of those interviewed also said that they consider the images “memories” and want to retain them for sentimental purposes.
“Human Error - Camera Face” is a software driven camera that will only take a photo of its subject when they are “not” looking directly at the camera. The resulting photo is a profile shot, back of the head view, or nothing at all which typically results in the photo being deleted instantly. Instead of deletion, "Human Error - Camera Face" stores these photos in the cloud for others to peruse, resulting in an album of photos that no one would like to see. By building in “human error” through machine learning to cameras and optical devices, perhaps we can understand why photography is so important to our daily lives and why we must always abide by the standardization of a smiling frontal view of our subjects.
Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Ph.D., is an artist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Lehman College / CUNY in the Bronx. He received his Ph.D. from Trinity College Dublin. His work focuses on “Deconstructing Networks” with works that challenge and subvert accepted perceptions of network interaction. His artwork has been exhibited at venues such as SFMOMA, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art, MOMA, ICA London, Whitney Museum of American Art, Palais du Tokyo, Tate Modern, Ars Electronica, Transmediale, and more. His artworks, “Bumplist” and “America’s Got No Talent” are in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has written for WIRED, Make, Gizmodo, Neural and more. His Scrapyard Challenge workshops have been held in over 15 countries in Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and Australia since 2003.