Here but not here.


One of the task for this week tutorial of BCM240 was to take photo of someone using a mobile device in a public space. I and my mate Mitchell captured several cases but the picture above was the one we found most interesting. The picture was shot in front of UOW library which can be considered a public space. The signage system here was various which contained many screens or posters. However, they did not draw much attention from pedestrians due to several reasons such as they were busy chatting, thinking or like the guy in the picture, using their mobile devices, which according to Williams 2013, are called ‘short term bias‘.

In this case, we can somehow say that this public space had been turned into private space virtually as the person was engaging in personal practices. This can be linked to the theory called ‘Presence bleed‘, which can be explained that people are now can physically be in one place but virtually in another place simultaneously (Gregg 2013). For example, I may sit in the lecture theater but I do not pay attention to the lecture but to an online discussion somewhere else instead. Therefore, the border between public and private space has been blurred. Coming back to the guy in the picture above, he obviously was in a public space but his attention was not put on what was happening around him, even a big screen right in front of him. On the basis of his attention, how can we say whether he was in a public or private space ? Personally, I think the notion of ‘Here but not here’ can be applied in this case and millions other cases that each and everyone of us are explaining in the digital era.

In terms of photography ethics, we took this photo without the guy’s awareness and permission because we considered that was how we can have the most natural look at the case. If we told him in advance, he might not be in his natural habit of using mobile devices (Bray 2012). After we took the picture, we came and told him of what we just did and the purpose of it. We also asked him for his consent to put this picture on our blog along with our analysis and obtained his agreement.


Bray, Simon 2012, How To Get Your Subject To Act Naturally, EnvatoTuts+, viewed September 2nd 2016, <–photo-9729&gt;.

Gregg, Melissa 2013, Presence Bleed: Performing Professionalism Online, Academia, viewed September 2nd 2016, <;.

Williams, Bri 2013, Why we ignore early warning signs and what to do about it, Smart Company, viewed September 2nd 2016, <;.



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