Monday, July 11, 2011

Monkey Business




If MoMA was really looking to break ground in their upcoming "New Photography" series, they couldn't do much better than this amazing self-portrait taken by an un-named Indonesian macaque. I'm pretty sure he hasn't exhibited before.

David J. Slater, a British wildlife photographer, was shooting in one of Indonesia's national parks when the black-crested macaque snatched his camera equipment and became enthralled with the reflection in the camera lens. Slater shoots wildlife with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II so his DSLR lens was large enough for a clear reflection.

The macaque shot a couple hundred pictures before Slater was able to recover the equipment. And while many of the shots were out of focus, the majority of the pictures showed the monkeys showing off their teeth as it’s likely the first time they had seen their reflections. Slater said that the group of monkeys was initially frightened by the clicking sounds of the camera, but they all eventually returned to check out the gear.

The image above is actually a cropped version of the full frame below, but I like the directness of this version, the tension between the caricature of a smile and the sadness of the eyes, and the blunt geometry of the composition. Inadvertent or not, I'd still rank it as one of the most powerful and moving photographic self-portraits I've seen.



12 comments:

Jay said...

I read somewhere that the macaque technically owns the copyright of the image since it's the author of the work...

...however since macaques can't be considered as authors, then technically it doesn't own the copyright.

:|

Davidikus said...

Interesting experience!
This raises a few questions. Young children do not understand that they see a reflection of themselves in mirrors. How likely is it that the macaque did understand they were seeing themselves? Are they 'smiling' (if this is indeed a smile) at themselves? or do they think they are showing their teeth at someone else?

On a slightly unrelated topic (why do I always think of children when confronted with monkeys & apes?): young children often take interesting pictures, but for some reason, their pictures tend to become increasingly boring as they grow old, imvho. Would it make sense to lend a monkey/ape a camera (something fairly resistant & less expensive than a 5D) to see whether they would grow accustomed to the camera, or improve their images?

Thanks for the post, very thought-provoking.

http://davidikus.blogspot.com/
http://www.davidranc.com

Joe Holmes said...

Every time I see this image, I think it looks like a computer-generated character from an animated feature film — maybe "Madagascar 3" or something...

Susan Elliott said...

I first saw these images elsewhere on the web. While I initially thought they were quite wonderful, the more I looked at them, the more I felt somewhat uncomfortable. Now I know why. You hit the nail bang on the head with your comment on the sadness of the eyes. Thank you for your always brilliant observations.

Mandy said...

"Inadvertent or not, I'd still rank it as one of the most powerful and moving photographic self-portraits I've seen."

...I couldn't agree more. AMAZING.

Keisha said...

Ha ha! Clever!! :)

zara said...

I love the amusement in the macaque's face :) crafty animals, indeed!

umanbn said...

looks like me after I've finished scrubbing my teeth...do you think s/he knows s/he's looking at himself?

Funny Pictures said...

Nice blog man thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I'm in love!

vi said...

I think this photo is hilarious.

Arizer Solo said...

great photo. Thanks,
Arizer Solo