Why take photos when millions upon millions of people are taking billions upon billions of them every single day, of every subject imaginable? Artist Joachim Schmid has been obsessed with other people’s photos for years, collecting and re-packaging them as art objects. This great video from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Invisible Photograph series takes a look at Schmid’s odd practice.
We are all familiar with the various tropes of photography, and how they unite our visual culture. Just look at something like food photography with smartphones — widely mocked and practiced at the same time. But nothing quite brings these conventions into perspective like seeing them printed and bound, side-by-side in physical form. Schmid started collecting photos before the days of digital, roaming around cities picking up discarded images on the street. Now he is occupied with tracking the digital deluge of photos that expands everyday. Schmid self-publishes books based each on a simple concept of popular photography. They are each unique micro-anthropologies, printed and bound.
You may not consider Schmid’s activities to be art, and that would be just fine with him. As he says in the video, “Basically I’m an artist because there’s no other description for that, but you could call me a curator or editor or whatever, and I don’t really care a lot about that.”
Check out The Invisible Photograph for other videos in the series. They are all terrific and well worth your time.