Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reflections in a Trick Mirror Shows Some Human Conceits (1946)

Yale Joel was born in 1919 in the Bronx, New York. His father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera when he was a teenager. He started taking photographs, and continued for the next 70 years.

In 1946, from the darkened interior of a stuffy booth in the lobby of Loew's Criterion cinema in Times Square, Yale Joel stole portraits of unguarded moviegoers through a transparent or 'two-way' mirror. These hilarious and surprising portraits as a harmless diversion and curiosity. However, the surreptitious technology used to obtain these photographs, their unrestrained dissemination in a national magazine, and the condescending tone of accompanying text raises complicated ethical issues: questions of personal privacy, surveillance, and ownership of one's own image, to which people have become increasingly conscious since 1946, in an exponentially more image-saturated culture.

Woman smoothing her eyebrow

Woman moistening her lips, while others are checking out their own profiles

Man cleaning his glasses

Man adjusting his overcoat and grimacing

Man adjusting his pants

Nose-blower watching himself

Woman checking her eyelid

Man tugging at shirt collar

Woman adjusting flowered hat

Woman adjusting her skirt

Man checking his molars

Woman applying lipstick

Man checking a spot on his face

Man setting his hat in place

Man looking closely at the side of his nose

(Photos by Yale Joel/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images, via Mashable/Retronaut)

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