In 2011 approximately two billion people worldwide used camera phones; collectively, they took more than 400 billion pictures, making mobile phone photography the most widespread form of image-making the world has ever known. Mia Fineman’s article will address camera phone photography both as a vernacular form of image-making and as it is used by contemporary artists, considering the spontaneity, immediacy, and low-res rawness of a camera phone image as an alternative to the slick hyperrealism of much recent large-scale color photography. Fineman will also look at how artists’ camera phone projects relate to such broader cultural phenomena as citizen journalism, espionage, and online social networking. Photographers to be featured include Joel Sternfeld, Rob Pruitt, and Chase Jarvis, among others.

Mia Fineman is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is the author of Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (Metropolitan Museum, 2012) and co-author (with Komar and Melamid) of When Elephants Paint: The Quest of Two Russian Artists to Save the Elephants of Thailand (Harper Paperbacks, 2000). She has contributed essays to many artist monographs and has published regularly in The New York Times Arts & Leisure section and Slate. Fineman’s writing on art and culture has also appeared in the Village Voice, Photograph, Artnet, Harper’s, and McSweeney’s.