A filmmaker’s project allows you to see the world through another’s eyes.
Here in the West, Google Glass is seen as an intensely modern but perhaps destructive force. People aren’t quite ready for the idea of cameras mounted on every person’s head, and this has caused anxiety for many because we know progress is inevitable. In Myanmar, however, where just 4.2% of the population had access to the internet in 2012 and smartphones are only just starting to appear in major cities like Yangon and Mandalay, the glasses are more of an oddity than a threat. American filmmaker Josh Kim found inspiration in these conditions, loaning the glasses and their 720p mounted camera to people with unusual and in some cases, disappearing professions, such as sugar cane juice vendors and payphone operators.
In Kim’s experience, people weren’t particularly surprised by the device. “They just assumed it was something they did not have, but was pretty common across the rest of the world,” he told the Wall Street Journal. When other people saw the Glass wearers, he added, they “thought this was a new fashion statement.” Added Fast Company, “The poorer the person Kim interacted with, the less excited they were about the strange device.”
The very physical nature of the professions he has selected – no staring at computer screens here – allows for a look into a truly different perspective and way of life through the first-person lens. Since embarking on his Google Glass Diaries project in January, he has been to Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan, creating nuanced portraits of people there. He has been careful to include more modern professions as well – such as a “smile designer,” or plastic surgeon, in Thailand – to avoid drawing oversimplified comparisons between the modern and the timeless. As word of his project has spread around Asia, people have been submitting ideas using the form on his website, and people who want their stories – including some sex workers in Thailand – have raised money to fund his visit. Check out the world through the eyes of a Muay Thai kickboxer below: