Nothing To Hide

Photographer Bobby Scheidemann takes pictures of himself taking pictures of things.

Nothing To Hide

It’s an artful spin on the meme and a pointed critique of our compulsive need to document everything we do and see.

Nothing To Hide

A lot of that, as Scheidemann’s images intentionally convey, is incredibly mundane--too mundane to be photographed.

Nothing To Hide

Each of Scheidemann’s photographs tightly frames a series of exquisite compositions that are light on meaningful content.

Nothing To Hide

The compositions are uneventful by design. They depict quiet, very still moments. Beautiful but not all that compelling, until you notice…

Nothing To Hide

…Scheidemann’s hand reaching into the frame and disrupting the compositions.

Nothing To Hide

He holds a vintage 35mm Olympus camera, quickly snapping pics of whatever’s placed in front of it. Sound familiar?

Co.Design

A Photo Series Questions Our Can't-Stop Photo Compulsion

What’s to become of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of…? An art-school send-up of our infinite jest point-and-shoot.

Memes aren’t made to last. They’re diversionary by nature and slapped together with absurdist of-the-moment content, which is pretty much the point. But memes sometimes live on—and not just in other memes.

This kind of meta memes-in-memes headspin informs the photo series "Nothing to Hide." The images, by photographer Bobby Scheidemann are an art-school sendup of the people-taking-pictures-of-people-taking pictures meme that peaked in 2011.

In the series, Scheidemann’s hand sneaks into the frame of each photo, wielding a vintage 35mm Olympus Stylus Epic point-and-shoot.

Scheidemann, a photography grad from Texas State University, first showed the images to colleagues, who promptly expressed bewilderment or annoyance or just being over the meme. "They told me to stop taking pictures of myself taking pictures," he tells Co.Design. Later, in a class critique, the room sat unmoved, dead silent for almost the entirety of his enthused 15-minute presentation. At that point, Scheidemann, undeterred, decided to post his images on the Internet, where they always belonged.

In his photos, prosaic details that add up to a series of charming but intentionally empty visual non sequiturs: the top corner of a shower embellished by a shampoo stain; forgotten watermelon rinds on a porch; a stream of paint spilling onto a cutting board.

The scenes are as compelling to look at as watching steel corrode, or a slow slide through a stranger’s uninspired Instagram or Tumblr feed. But that’s the point for Scheidemann—his, and our, can’t stop taking pictures compulsion. Though he knows there isn’t anything here of interest, he can’t fight the impulse to document and share it, in all its non-eventfulness.

When he was planning and shooting the images, Scheidemann says he was thinking about the numbing effects of a hypervisual culture. "I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with my intake of imagery, so much so I wasn’t sure after a while which images in my head were mine and which weren’t." Who hasn’t been there?

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