Snapshots: Portrait of the Mobile

Larissa Hjorth, Games and Digital Art at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

1. Snapshots: Portrait of the mobile explores the ways in which we imbue mobile technology as an extension of ourselves; both in terms of self-expression and self-identification but also as an object inflected by the particularities of the socio-cultural. In this project we are greeted by portraits of mobile phone users. But rather than face portraits, we are met by their mobile phones. On the one hand this work explores the rhetoric around the personification of technologies, most notably the mobile phone. On the other hand, the work investigates how much one’s mobile phone can tell a story about their user/ owner. Can the mobile phone be symbolic of one’s lifestyle? How many clues does it leave about the user’s identity and social capital? In this work I spoke to 150 people (from Seoul and Melbourne) and took pictures of their phones and asked them about how they personalized their phone.

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  1. Very interesting research. Regarding the fact that personalized clothes (especially t-shirts) are concerned as a sort of art, then a Mobile Phone Art should exist. Even more, mobile phones can be used to make art (by taking photographs, recording any audio/visual material e.t.c) and they can be seen as an artwork too (by the internal or external personalization). But is it art?
    Thank you.

  2. I remember Panasonic has a model two years ago which was design for their user/owner to insert a piece of paper on its facade, and they sell that cell phone with several different graphic sheets and some blank sheets for owner to draw or print their own design for their cell phone. This cell phone are design to be personalized.
    Since cell phone has become one of our daily necessary, it attach to our physical body and present existence for its owner. I am looking forward it see more art on mobile phone.
    About Marilou’s question…Personally, I think it’s art–because the word “art” is the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination.

  3. I am so pleased to see two pictures of mobile phones since the background on which phones are placed is quite familiar to me. The shiny silk striped with various bright colours is called “saekdong” in Korean and deemed as a unique Korean pattern. (Yes, I am a Korean). Before reading the text, I first saw the stripe pattern and I assumed this article would relate to Korean mobile culture in a way. Indeed, I found that the research was carried out in Seoul, where those pictures were probably taken. In this sense, the pattern tends to serve as a symbolic sign to me. Yet I am just wondering how many non-Koreans or Koreans can understand such signification.
    I must confess I am a little visually oriented person, so become preoccupied with the visual sign, not the content itself. Sorry…

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