The Misbehaving Camera is a body of work made in response to utilising an ‘easy-to-use’ digital compact camera, concerned with exploring and subverting its traditional uses in a playful manner. Common to this model are a series of shooting modes such as Portrait, Landscape, Museum, Flowers, or Sunset; each mode serving to instruct and assist the user. Through a process of programming and categorisation, priority is afforded to capturing the ‘big pictures’, which obey traditional social and cultural uses of photography associated with the family album or leisure pursuits. Images which fail to subscribe to these predisposed categories appear outwardly rejected as no function can be immediately assigned to them.
This project engages with the concept that something in the camera has malfunctioned, the consequences of which prompt the primary shooting modes to act up, loose focus and become hesitant of their roles. Resulting images levitate in an in-between state; appear suspended between the modes, uncertain of their purpose or where they might belong. In an attempt to unravel why the camera’s shooting modes have ‘misbehaved’, the camera’s manual is consulted from which key words and phrases are extracted. While they don’t provide any definitive answers, these ambiguous excerpts, unmoored from their original context begin to strangely mimic and mirror the in-between images, dangling precariously in no man’s land. A new ‘Camera Manual’ is subsequently fashioned, where the ‘in-between’ images finally find refuge, while a concluding precautionary note states that if a problem arises, one should simply “turn the camera off”. 1
About the Artist
Irish artist, Miriam O’Connor lives and works in Cork. In her practice she draws inspiration from the language, sights and sounds of the everyday. She is especially interested in the role photography plays within this context and how photography itself acts out everyday life. She is concerned with the subtleties of looking and seeing, the relationship between camera and viewer, and the special ambiguity of still images. Rather than providing answers, O’ Connor work often poses questions, while her images are playful and curious in approach.2