Image Fulgurator: Guerilla art, simulacra and flashing at Checkpoint Charlie

Julius von Bismarck's Image Fulgurator adds radical new meaning to existing photo opportunities -- and all with the tantalising frisson of a possible pißartisten

The Image Fulgurator, developed by Berlin art student Julius von Bismarck, has sent ripples across the blogosphere. It's a device that projects patterns when triggered by a camera flash, so that von Bismarck's chosen image appears in the hapless snapper's picture. Critics fear invisible adverts, but Kameraflage does a similar thing in a much more monetisable form and that hasn't brought down civilisation as we know it yet.

The Fulgurator is more of a guerilla device, for arterrorist 'interventions' flashing subversive messages across "sacred or popular locations, or those having a political connotation". It's a form of real world détournement, adding radical new meaning to an existing text -- and all with the tantalising frisson of a possible pißartisten at work.

Very few tourist attractions could get away with defacing their visitors' photographs, because these days photos are memories -- what von Bismarck calls the "fabric of media memory". I know I frequently have to force myself to stop looking through viewfinders or LCD screens and just... look.

It's interesting that von Bismarck chose Checkpoint Charlie as an early intervention. It's a place loaded with political and cultural significance, but as many of the tourists pausing to crack a smile might be to be surprised to discover, it's not 'real'. The wooden shed is a copy, just like Shakespeare's Globe or Liverpool's Cavern Club.

In a world of simulacra, nothing's real, and not in the pseudo-intellectual Matrix Revolutions way. Photos from these places are representations of something that is itself a copy. Even when we do open our eyes and look for ourselves, what we see is still a physiologically mediated copy, our brain deciphering impulses that record a moment already lost; our memories merely fast-degrading electrical shadows of what we think we saw.

Oh, except for CNET.co.uk. We always keep it real.

Tags:
Cameras
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Find Your Tech Type

Take our tech personality quiz and enter for a chance to win* high-tech specs!