BCM240 Week 6: Public Media and Media in Public

Public screens in Times Square, New York. Photo by Meghan Barrell

Public screens in Times Square, New York. Photo by Meghan Barrell

We’re taking a swift turn out of the home media environments of early weeks and moving past the strange spaces of cinemas from week 5 to look at how TVs operate in public spaces. At the same time, we want students to think about the ‘rules’ around public use of private media like mobile phones, and activities like photography in public.

First though, I’ve created WordPress lists for students in my groups. Find T6 here and T7 here (you’ll have to log in to WordPress).

Some things to think about

    1. A picture taken of Sikh woman Balpreet Kaur was posted in the subreddit r/funny, with the caption ‘I’m not sure what to conclude from this’. Balpreet’s response is the top comment. See the thread here.
    2. Caille Millner writes that oft-celebrated photographer Garry Winograd’s work evokes for her “the fear of having a brief moment of physical vulnerability in a public place – a broken blouse button, a dropped handbag, a taxi exit in a dress – and watching that moment show up later, in a humiliating way, because of some jerk with a camera.” That piece is referenced in a suggested reading for the week called ‘The Ethics of Street Photography’ by Joerg Colberg.
    3. And this:

Questions to discuss

  1. Is a mobile phone used in public actually private? Does it depend on usage?
  2. What makes public photography ok?
  3. Even if it’s lawful to photograph people in public, why would you restrict usage of those photographs?
  4. Are you allowed photograph people without permission at UOW? How would you find out?
  5. Are you making a spectacle of yourself by texting while walking? Or should we stop looking?
  6. How do publics come to be around these screens?
  7. Identify some factors behind the increasing number of public screens.
  8. Is photography a gendered exercise? What about particular photographic techniques or technologies?

Blogs this week
Consider public space as an ethical dilemma:

  1. Find a resource on the ethics of public space photography and ethnography
  2. Reference this in a blog post in which you use images, sound or other observations of public space media use (television screens, mobile devices) in a way that is ethically comfortable for you
  3. Reflect on what you did in relation to the ethics of permission, discretion and care for others
  4. What makes public space ethnography effective? What safeguards work?