SAN FRANCISCO “What’s the last photo on your phone?” – with this question, the artist Ivan Cash has interviewed some strangers in the streets of San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. And from this idea, an ongoing video series called “Last Photo“ has taken life. What’s about? It reminds a bit the “Fifty People, One Question” format and project. Ivan travels to different cities and asks random strangers about the last photo on their phone. “I have a few places in mind where I’d like to make the next videos, all of which I’ve never been: Detroit, New Orleans, Dallas, Nashville, Birmingham. – Ivan says. – These places all feel foreign to me and so I’d be excited to get a taste of the city through talking to its people in this unusual way“.
Some of the people’s responses play into local stereotypes – for instance in Ivan Cash’s first video, based in his hometown of San Francisco, a local shows a picture of the dismembered crab he put back together while taking drugs on the beach. Or in the Los Angeles episode, a woman shares the selfie she had to take to apply for a modeling job. But there are also stories that would be relatable regardless of the city, whether it’s gifts for a man’s wife, a 47-year reunion among Peace Corps volunteers or a tattoo to signify a woman’s recent struggles. And many are just plain silly, like a gingerbread house assembled with duct tape, in the New York episode.
It’s even curious to see people’s reaction to Ivan’s question that – the artist explains – often depends on the city neighborhood: “On Abbott Kinney in L.A., 9 out of 10 people I approached refused to show me their last photo. That is an overwhelming “hip” area, and everyone felt closed off. Then I went to Venice which felt more laid back, and almost everyone was willing to share their photos. While in N.Y., it was nearly impossible to get anyone in Times Square or on Fifth Avenue to stop and chat and share their last photo. It was just too busy and so people went on auto-pilot. But then in West Brooklyn, Lower East Side Manhattan, and even Harlem, everyone was really friendly and so the majority of people I talked to were into it.”
If you are asking yourself what’s the sense of the “Last Photo” project, here the answer (that maybe you are not expecting): “To me, this project really keys in on the tension behind our phones having lots of amazingly rich, personal, social information that allows us to connect, to an extent, but then also serving as a hindrance to connecting with the people around us.” – Ivan Cash told Yahoo Travel. – “We live in an era where so much of our existence (from ad campaigns to Facebook profiles) is meticulously positioned to make things seem so shiny and perfect. By focusing on the ordinary and sometimes mundane parts of life, I hope people can get a sense of how interesting real life is, and maybe become more engaged and curious with their surroundings”.
Ivan Cash is a San Francisco-based interactive artist and filmmaker who loves people and their real, human stories. Ah, he also loves talking to strangers.
Using technology to connect, rather than disconnect people is a true passion for Ivan. Among his works, a video intitled “What Are You Texting About?” – where he approached San Franciscans to find out their most recent text – and a book intitled “Snail Mail My Email” – born from a worldwide collaborative art project where volunteers handwrite strangers’ emails and send physical letters to the intended recipients, free of charge.
Artist: Ivan Cash