For Ivan Cash, our smartphone camera rolls are a window into our lives.
In a highly curated online world, it can be difficult to catch people being truly candid with the images they create. Though our lives are perhaps more recorded than ever before, the photos and videos we create all too often are put into the service of our highly constructed online identities instead of being allowed to speak for themselves.
Ivan Cash, an interactive designer and artist based in San Francisco whose work hopes to “inspire radical engagement and participation,” had the perfect idea for cutting through this artifice: in his ‘Last Photo’ video series, he approached people on the street and simply asked them what the most recent photo on their phone was. “I am utterly fascinated by people and reality and human stories of life, love, loss, gain, pain, & pleasure,” Cash told Mashable. “Asking people these questions was my way of hoping to get a candid, unfiltered response which is inherently interesting. In a digital world that is in some ways so curated, having this random effect feels more truthful, real, and surprising than if I were to ask people to pick their favorite photo on their phone, or share ‘an interesting’ story with me.”
The slice-of-life project, by giving us a glimpse into the complicated lives of people walking down the street, shows how inextricably tied in with identity our tiny devices are. “[The project is] based on the idea that we all have our phones on us at all times. Most of us have smart phones so we can stay connected at any time,” he told the Daily Mail. “But the irony is, when you look around in a public space, half the people are on their phones, and it feels really isolating when people are not open to what’s going on around them.” Happily, he has found that phones offer new types of insights into the identities of people you’d never normally meet. He has created videos of people in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and encourages people to bring the project to their own communities; University of Portland, thus far, has done their own. Check out the video for his hometown of San Francisco below and go to his website for the rest.