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Martin Scorsese: ‘Cinema is gone’

Martin Scorsese’s Manhattan office, in a midtown building a few blocks northwest of the cordoned-off Trump Tower, may be the most concentrated bastion of reverence for cinema on the face of the earth.

There’s a small screening room where Scorsese screens early cuts of his films and classic movies for his daughter and his friends. There’s his personal library of thousands of films, some he taped himself decades ago. Film posters line the walls. Bookshelves are stuffed with film histories. And there are editing suites, including the one where Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker regularly toil with a monitor dedicated to the continuous, muted playing of Turner Classic Movies.

“It’s a temple of worship, really,” says Schoonmaker.

Scorsese’s latest, “Silence,” may be the film that most purely fuses the twin passions of his life: God and cinema.

Scorsese, who briefly pursued becoming a priest before fervently dedicating himself to moviemaking, has sometimes seemed to conflate the two.

“Silence” is a solemn, religious epic about Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) in a violently anti-Catholic 17th century Japan. Scorsese has wanted to make it for nearly 30 years. He was given the book it’s based on, Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, by a bishop after a screening of his famously controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988.

“Silence” is an examination of belief and doubt and mysterious acts of faith.

But making the film was such an act in itself.

“Acting it out, maybe that’s what existence is all about,” Scorsese says of his faith. “The documentary on George Harrison I made, ‘Living in the Material World,’ that says it better. He said if you want an old man in the sky with a beard, fine. I don’t mean to be relativist about it. I happen to feel more comfortable with Christianity. But what is Christianity? That’s the issue and that’s why I made this film.”

It wasn’t easy.

Scorsese, 74, may be among the most revered directors in Hollywood, but “Silence” is almost the antithesis of today’s studio film.

To make it Scorsese had to drum up foreign money in Cannes and ultimately made the film for about $46 million. Everyone, including himself, worked for scale.

Few today are making movies with the scope and ambition of “Silence” — a fact, he grants, that makes him feel like one of the last of a dying breed in today’s film industry.

“Cinema is gone,” Scorsese says. “The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone.”

“The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there’s no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be?” he continues. “Is it always going to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the ‘50s, you go from Westerns to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ to the special experience of ‘2001’ in 1968. The experience of seeing ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Searchers’ in VistaVision.”

Scorsese points to the proliferation of images and the overreliance on superficial techniques as trends that have diminished the power of cinema to younger audiences. “It should matter to your life,” he says. “Unfortunately the latest generations don’t know that it mattered so much.”

Scorsese’s comments echo a tender letter he wrote his daughter two years ago. The future of movies, he believes, is in the freedom that technology has yielded for anyone to make a movie.

“TV, I don’t think has taken that place. Not yet,” adds Scorsese, whose “Boardwalk Empire” was lauded but whose high-priced “Vinyl” was canceled after one season. “I tried it. I had success to a certain extent. ‘Vinyl’ we tried but we found that the atmosphere for the type of picture we wanted to make — the nature of the language, the drugs, the sex, depicting the rock ‘n’ roll world of the ‘70s — we got a lot of resistance. So I don’t know about that freedom.”

Since the election of Donald Trump, some have expressed hope for a return to the kind of ‘70s filmmaking Scorsese is synonymous with.

“If the younger people have something to say and they find a way to say through visual means as well as literary, there’s the new cinema,” says Scorsese.

But the current climate reminds him more of the ‘50s of his youth.

“I’m worried about double-think or triple-think, which is make you believe you have the freedom, but they can make it very difficult to get the picture shown, to get it made, ruin reputations. It’s happened before.”

“Silence,” which Scorsese screened for Jesuits at the Vatican before meeting with the pope, remains a powerful exception in a changing Hollywood.

“He wanted to make this film extremely differently from anything out there,” says Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s editor since “Raging Bull.” “He’s just tired of slam-bam-crash. Telling the audience what to think is what he really hates. Trying to do a meditative movie at this point, in this insane world we’re in now, was incredibly brave. He wanted to stamp the film with that throughout: the pace, the very subtle use of music.

“How many movies start without music at the very beginning under the logos?” she adds. “He said, ‘Take out all that big Hollywood.””

Scorsese, apostle of cinema, continues the fight.

His Film Foundation has helped restore more than 750 films. And he regularly pens supportive letters to young directors whose films he admires.

Imagine that in your mailbox. Almost like getting a letter from your god.

Robots organize your photos, so you can procrastinate

If you’re like many people, you have thousands of photos on your phone, long forgotten after you’ve posted a few on Instagram or Facebook.

They don’t have to stay forgotten. Apple and Google are both applying a form of artificial intelligence called “machine learning” to organize your pictures and video _ and along the way, help you rediscover last year’s vacation, dinner with close friends and a casual summer outing to the park.

Apple’s tools are part of last month’s iOS 10 system update for iPhones and iPads. The Google Photos app for Apple and Android devices has a digital assistant to automatically organize these memories _ and Google signaled last week that it will only get smarter. And on Wednesday, Google introduced additional features for rediscovery.

Here’s a look at how they take you down memory lane:

APPLE’S MEMORIES

Apple’s new Memories feature automatically generates video highlights around a theme, such as a trip or birthday party. Individual photos and snippets from video are chosen for you, as is the music, though you can change it to reflect a different mood.

This isn’t just a slideshow. There’s slow zooming and panning, reminiscent of Ken Burns historical documentaries. Some of the photos also come to life, at least on newer iPhones that automatically take three seconds of video with every photo.

When you’re ready to share, the app creates a standard movie file _ so it works on Windows and Android devices, too.

For me, Apple’s app created a “Florida to Illinois” package for a three-week trip in January and one for a day trip to Philadelphia last November. But Apple goes beyond date and location. Apple created a “Together” package for shots with family over the past two years. It also created an “At The Beach” package with beach photos since 2013. Other scenic themes could include mountains, lakes and sunsets.

Apple offers up to three new Memories a day. You can create more based on photos you add to an album and generate new automated ones by scrolling down to “Related.” You can also add or delete images within Memories _ in my experience, a few included mundane screenshots I had to get rid of.

Nothing will ever replace the human touch. But let’s face it, even though I keep meaning to organize my photos, I never find the time. The machine-generated selections aren’t necessarily ones I’d choose myself, but with a small amount of tweaking, they’re presentable and will tide me over until I get around to catching up manually … someday.

 

GOOGLE’S ASSISTANT

Google Photos has been at this longer and offers more types of packages. With collages, Google combines smaller versions of several shots into one layout . Animations combine a bunch of photos taken in succession so that they resemble as a moving image . Unlike typical “GIF” animation files, Google applies its magic to align successive shots, so buildings and bridges look steady _ without the shake common with handheld video. Google also offers albums and video highlights, though without the Ken Burns effect.

Google’s Assistant generates much of this for you automatically. You can edit auto-generated albums and video highlights, but not collages or animation _ although you can create your own from scratch. (That does defeat the purpose of letting the robots do the work, though.)

Sharing is easy and doesn’t require recipients to have Google Photos.

The results vary in quality. I tend to take several shots of the same subject, just in case some are blurry. Yet I get collages and animations out of those repetitive shots. The albums and video highlights I got are grouped by location and date, though Google says it will be doing more with themes , such as following a kid growing up.

Most of my computer-generated creations are animations and collages. As with Apple, Google’s choices aren’t necessarily ones I’d make, if only I had the time. But some are good enough that I look forward to alerts for new ones to check out.

I also enjoyed a feature called “Rediscover this day.” Google will automatically create collages from shots taken on a day, say, two years ago. On Wednesday, Google said it will apply that to people, too, so you’ll get collages of you with a specific friend or family member.

 

SEARCHING

Apple and Google are both getting better at image recognition. Apple’s version tends to be more conservative. While Apple found four photos in a search for fireworks, Google found dozens. Google also found more photos with hats, though one was actually a strange hairdo and a few were of a headband. Then again, Apple thought an illustration of a hut was a hat.

Google is also bolder with face recognition. Its technology is smart enough to recognize the same child at 2 months and 6 years, while Apple often separates the same child into multiple identities (you can merge them, and things will be fine after that).

Google has an edge over Apple in part because it taps its powerful servers to process photos. Apple leaves all the machine thinking to your device as a privacy measure. But Apple says it also favors being right more than complete to reduce the work people need to do to fix things. Being wrong can also have consequences: Google had to apologize last year after its software got too aggressive and mistakenly labeled two black people as gorillas.

 

STORAGE

To free up space, both services will automatically clear photos from your phone after uploading them to the internet, once you activate the option. You still have a lower-resolution version on the device and can get the sharper image anytime, as long as you’re online.

Google Photos offers unlimited online storage of photos at up to 16 megapixels and videos at 1080p high definition _ good enough for most people. It will compress larger photos, or you can store the original and have it count toward your Google Drive limit, which starts at 15 gigabytes for free. Apple’s iCloud Photo Library requires paying once you exceed 5 gigabytes, which is enough for a few thousand photos.

 

On the Web

Apple Memories video from January trip.

Google animation of fountains.

Google collage.

Photography, science, spiritualism collide at JMKAC

Ask Alison Ferris about the purpose and power of photography, and the curator for the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan may come off sounding more professorial than poetic. 

But Ferris’ tone is very appropriate for two new arts center exhibitions — one pending, the other already on display — that illustrate a juxtaposition between the camera’s use as a scientific tool and photography’s evolution as an artistic medium.

Photography and the Scientific Spirit, opening on Oct. 30, focuses on 72 images from 17 photographers that illustrate scientific methods in artistic ways. The exhibition is one of a four-part series that operates under the tagline, “Life Lit Up: Science and Self as Seen through the Lens in Four Exhibitions.” 

Seeing is Believing: Photographs from the Collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a smaller exhibit that opened on Oct. 11, offers a series of 15 images from the Sherlock Holmes creator’s personal archive. The images, from the early 20th century, purportedly prove the authenticity of ghosts and visitations and are from a time when public interest in spiritualism was at its height, making it uniquely appropriate for the Halloween season.

WiG caught up with Ferris to find out more about Photography and the Scientific Spirit and Seeing is Believing.

How did Photography and the Scientific Spirit come about? Does its title have a specific meaning? I started noticing that a number of contemporary photographers were creating very compelling images incorporating science. When I started researching, I just kept coming across more photographers working this way.

The title was inspired by a quote from Walt Whitman: “I like the scientific spirit — the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine — it always keeps the way beyond open — always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake — after a wrong guess.” 

How do science and photography — and for that matter art overall — intersect? When the camera was invented in the 19th century, it was believed to be a machine that, in part, produced an empirical form of pictorial representation for scientists. The use of photographs, they thought, eliminated problematic human interference in sciences that required objectivity. Whereas earlier pictures such as drawings or paintings were believed to be willed into existence, photographs were understood as just the opposite, obtained or taken like natural specimens found in the wilderness.

The creative process manifests in science and art in the same way. The scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer wrote, “scientists live always at the edge of mystery.” So too, of course, do artists. Both artists and scientists thrive in the state of the unknown because it is from there that the idea or the form originates.

How many photographers and their works were considered for the exhibition? I don’t honestly have numbers, but I can say that I looked at a lot of work before making the final selections for the exhibition. The selected works characterize invention and imagination as it relates to science and art — and that’s a lot of territory to cover in an image! 

All the photographs in the exhibition are contemporary and most have been made in the last 10 years. The show opens with a selection of Berenice Abbott’s scientific photographs from the 1940s to 1960s. She was a pioneer of sorts in using photography to illustrate scientific phenomena. Many of the photographers in the exhibition cite Abbott’s work as informing their own.

Is there a connective thread, either visually or conceptually, that runs throughout the exhibition? The artists express the relationship between science and photography in a number of different manners. For some, the artists themselves take on the role of scientist — indeed a number of the artists studied science or are practicing scientists in addition to being photographers. They perform creative scientific experiments and capture them using photography. 

Caleb Charland expands upon a classic grade school science project: the potato battery, creating electrical current by inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a piece of potato and a copper wire in the other side. In one work, Charland electrifies a chandelier hanging in apple trees using the power of the fruit. In another, he lights a floor lamp in a field by using the potatoes growing underground.

David Goldes’s images are inspired by his research into pre-photographic 19th century drawings of electrical experiments performed by scientists such as Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday. Goldes’s photographs explore electrical experiments of his own invention that use simple household objects. 

Other artists work directly with scientists and make art in response to their discoveries. For example, Rachel Sussman’s series is the result of research and work with biologists, and travel in remote parts of the world to find and photograph objects as The Oldest Living Things in the World — her series title — explains.

A number of artists invent or alter photography’s chemical or mechanical processes and even build cameras, as in the case of Chris McCaw. McCaw’s hand-built, large-format cameras are outfitted with powerful lenses typically used for military surveillance and aerial reconnaissance. Instead of film, McCaw inserts expired vintage, fiber-based gelatin silver photo paper directly into the camera. 

Pointing the lens at the sun, McCaw exposes the paper for periods of time ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours. Such long exposures intensely magnify the sun’s rays, which literally burn through the surface of the paper, thus making tangible, in scored markings, the trajectory of the earth’s orbit around the sun.

What aspects of the exhibition may be most surprising to viewers? Perhaps what will be most surprising is how visually stunning the works in the exhibition are! I hope that viewers leave thinking about how both art and science are creative enterprises.

What can you tell us about Seeing is Believing? I also curated that smaller exhibition, which features spirit photography. There’s an interesting connection between the two exhibitions because spiritualists viewed the camera as an objective scientific tool that could produce evidence of the spirit world. 

A description of the exhibit notes that the images are from the collection of the famous British author Arthur Conan Doyle, now held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In this selection, viewers will see disembodied heads hovering in the air above photographic subjects or glowing on the sleeves of the sitters’ jackets. In even more unusual photographs, we see “evidence” of ectoplasm produced by a female medium. 

Ultimately, this exhibition shows that it was not simply faith in the veracity of the scientific photographic process that led to the kinds of credulity spirit photography enjoyed; it was a desire to believe in the existence of ghosts. Doyle, a committed spiritualist in the early 20th century, amassed hundreds of these photographs, which he believed substantiated the existence of the afterlife. 

ON DISPLAY 

Photography and the Scientific Spirit runs Oct. 30 – Feb. 21 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 608 New York Ave., Sheboygan. The concurrent exhibition, Seeing is Believing: Photographs from the Collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, runs through Jan. 17 at the same location. Visit jmkac.org or call 920-458-6144 for more details.

Through a reflective lens: ‘Postcards from America’

Postcards from America, on view through Oct. 19 at the Milwaukee Art Museum, uses the idea of a postcard like a diving platform. The artists make the concept a jumping-off point for plunging into pools of local culture. Each diver makes a splash and interprets the idea in an individual style. There’s no imagining the postcard as a cutesy, trite image or the reduction of a place into a static symbol here — those stereotypes are firmly quashed by the varied interests of the exhibition’s 11 photographers. 

MAM’s exhibit is exclusive to the city, but the fifth part of an overarching national series. The Postcards from America project was initiated in 2011 and has previously focused on the American Southwest, Utah, Florida and Rochester, New York. The photographers made their way to Milwaukee between August 2013 and April 2014, spending a few weeks apiece here. Their home bases vary — some live elsewhere in the U.S., others abroad — but they’re all connected through Magnum Photos, an international cooperative that has promoted documentary and street photography since 1947. 

When you set up house in a new place for a while, everything you see and experience is colored by novelty. Each street corner is different, each local peculiarity fascinates. Postcards from America taps into that subjectivity of vision, with each photographer filtering the images through memories or resonant personal history. In this way, the exhibition becomes a reflector, revealing the photographer’s own curiosities more than universal truths. 

Donovan Wylie, in his project titled The Preparatory City, juxtaposes modernist glass office blocks with the graceful embellishments of the Mitchell Building. It’s a concept that could exist nearly anywhere, but a location specific to downtown Milwaukee. Countless factors shape a city’s sense of place, and one of them is the way historic and modern construction layer on top of each other to create a quirky blended family. Wylie’s presentation of this in photographic form offers an opportunity to pause and consider how the past often remains present.

Other photographers explore community more than place, picturing events like street festivals and the State Fair. Bruce Gilden is drawn to Milwaukee’s faces, particularly those of women who are not unmarred by age and experience. The images are presented in a way that feels more like a study of line and texture than portraits of individuals — less studies of character than appearance.

One of the more personal installations belongs to Zoe Strauss. Her work centers on the murder of Evon Young, a promising, 22-year-old transgender hip-hop artist who went by the moniker Yung LT. Part visual narrative, part memorial, the work includes photographs, ephemera and words of mourners to reflect on the sadness.

Also fixating on individual experience is Susan Meiselas, who explores the often-unseen labor of women in factories. Brand names like Harley-Davidson or Johnsonville Sausage are well-known, but the faces behind the factory walls are not. Meiselas photographs women at work and includes their commentary on their jobs, peering into the work that fills so much of the time of life itself. 

Some photographers lean toward the traditions of art photography, like Jacob Aue Sobol. He visited Wisconsin last winter, traveling the shore of Lake Michigan up to Lake Superior. Along the way, he captured stark, sharply contrasted black-and-white photographs of faces young and old alike, as well as landscapes and stairwells that hint at a mysterious nature.

The exhibition feels rather like a form of contemporary cultural anthropology — highlighting details of daily life and work, what people enjoy and where they live. But even as we learn more about the hidden corners of the city and region around us, the camera lens distinctly reflects each photographer’s own experience, approach and angle of vision as well.

AFTER DARK

The Milwaukee Art Museum will keep its lights on a bit longer on Aug. 15 for the latest installment of MAM After Dark, a monthly art party. The evening takes its cue from Postcards From America with the museum soliciting Milwaukeeans’ photos of the city for display. Even if you can’t attend, post your Milwaukee image to Twitter with the hashtag #mamafterdark to have it included.

Libations will flow, with craft cocktail samples, plus a cash bar. Café Calatrava will offer a selection of tasty snacks, and music comes courtesy of The New Seven and I’m Not a Pilot. There also will be a photo booth to visually capture the fun. Admission is free for museum members; signing up for membership at the door will get you and a plus-one in for free. Other ticket options include purchasing advance admission ($9 plus fees) online or paying $14 at the door. 

6 p.m.-midnight .

Gallery talk at 7 p.m.

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images_-_postcards_-_Meiselas_-_Johnsonville

Colorado imposes penalties for ‘revenge porn’

Posting intimate pictures or videos online of former romantic partners as a form or revenge will carry criminal penalties in Colorado as of July 1.

Colorado was one of about two dozen states this year that considered bills addressing the trend of so-called revenge porn.

The new law makes it a misdemeanor to publish explicit images of someone without their consent and the crimes will carry a fine of at least $10,000.

Other laws taking effect July 1 include a requirement to release data to parents regarding student vaccination rates at schools, and stricter sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses against children under 12.

Another new law allocates $10 million in excess medical marijuana fees to study the health effects of the drug.

WHAT DID NARCISSUS SAY TO INSTAGRAM? SELFIE TIME!

In these hyper-connected, over-shared times dwell two kinds of people: those preoccupied with taking and uploading photos of themselves and those who have never heard of the selfie.

The raunchy, goofy, poignant, sexy or drunken self-portrait has been a common sight since phone camera met social media. Now, nearly a decade since the arm-extended or in-the-mirror photos became a mainstay of MySpace – duck face or otherwise – selfies are a pastime across generations and cultures.

Justin Bieber puts up plenty with his shirt off and Rihanna poses for sultry snaps, but a beaming Hillary Clinton recently took a turn with daughter Chelsea, who tweeted their happy first attempt with the hashtag (hash)ProudDaughter.

Two other famous daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, selfied at dad’s second inauguration, pulling faces in front of a smartphone. And Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide earned a spot in the Selfie Hall of Fame with a striking, other-worldly shot, arms extended as reflected in his helmet outside the International Space Station last year.

“It just comes so naturally after a point,” said Elizabeth Zamora, a 24-year-old marketing account coordinator in Dallas who has taken hundreds of selfies since she got her first iPhone two years ago, with the front-facing camera that has become the selfie gold standard.

“You just take it and you don’t even realize it and then you’re sharing it with all your friends,” she said. “I try not to go crazy.”

If we’re not taking them, we’re certainly looking, regardless of whether we know what they’re called. We’re lurking on the selfies of our teens, enjoying the hijinx of co-workers and friends and mooning over celebrities, who have fast learned the marketing value – and scandalous dangers – of capturing their more intimate, unpolished selves.

The practice of freezing and sharing our thinnest slices of life has become so popular that the granddaddy of dictionaries, the Oxford, is monitoring the term selfie as a possible addition. Time magazine included the selfie in its Top 10 buzzwords of 2012 (at No. 9) and New York magazine’s The Cut blog declared in April: “Ugly Is the New Pretty: How Unattractive Selfies Took Over the Internet.”

On Instagram alone, there’s (hash)selfiesunday, along with related tags where millions of selfies land daily. More than 23 million photos have been uploaded to the app with the tag (hash)selfie and about 70 million photos clog Instagram’s (hash)me.

What are we to make of all this navel-gazing (sometimes literally)? Are selfies, by definition, culturally dangerous? Offensive? An indicator of moral decline?

Beverly Hills, Calif., psychiatrist Carole Lieberman sees narcissism with a capital N. “The rise of the selfie is a perfect metaphor for our increasingly narcissistic culture. We’re desperately crying out: Look at me!”

But Pamela Rutledge doesn’t see it that way. The director of the nonprofit Media Psychology Research Center, which explores how humans interact with technology, sees the selfie as democratizing the once-snooty practice of self-portraiture, a tradition that long predates Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

She sees some key differences between selfies and self-portraits of yore. Unlike painted portraiture, selfies are easily deletable. And “bad or funny is good in a way that wasn’t the case when people had to pay for film to be developed,” or for a professional painter, she said.

“Albrecht Durer’s self-portraiture is these incredible self-reflections and explorations of technique, and then when Rihanna snaps her picture it’s just self-aggrandizement, or it’s promotion, so you have a fairly interesting double standard based upon who’s taking the self-portrait,” said Rutledge, in Boston.

In selfies, we can be famous and in control of our own images and storylines. As for the young, the more authority figures – parents, teachers – dislike them and “declare them a sign of a self-obsessed, narcissistic generation, the more desirable they become,” she said.

The word selfie in itself carries multiple connotations, Rutledge observes. “The `ie’ at the end makes selfie a diminutive, implying some affection and familiarity.” From a semantic’s perspective, the selfie is a “little’ self” – a small, friendly bit of the self, she said.

There’s a sense of immediacy and temporariness. “Granted, little is really temporary on the Internet, but it is more that by definition. Transient, soon to be upstaged by the next one,” Rutledge said.

Self-portraits tagged as `selfie’ first surfaced on Flickr, a photo-sharing site, and on MySpace in 2004, Rutledge said. The earliest reference in UrbanDictionary was to “selfy” in 2005.

In historical terms, elites in Ancient Egypt were fond of self-portraits, Rutledge said. And then there was the mirror, invented in the 15th century and allowing artists like the prolific Durer in Germany to have at it in more meaningful detail.

While the self-involved Narcissus stared at his reflection in a pond in Greek mythology, it was the mirror that “really was the first piece of technology where an artist could see his own image long enough to paint it, other than just painting self-impressions,” Rutledge said.

Fast forward to the 1860s and the advent of cameras, launching a new round of selfies, though they took considerable skill and expense.

Leap with us once again to 2010 and the launch of Instagram, and on to 2012, when 86 percent of the U.S. population had a cell phone, bringing on the cheaper selfie as social media and mobile Internet access spread.

“What’s most interesting to me is how we’re trying to grapple with what it means,” Rutledge said. “We know what it means when we see somebody’s picture of their kid holding a soccer ball. We’re OK with that. And we know what it means to have a portrait in a high school yearbook or of a real estate agent on a business card. We know how to think about all of those things, but we don’t know how to think about this mass production of self-reflection.”

Is it possible the selfie doesn’t mean anything at all?

“In the era of the Kardashians, everyone has become their own paparazzi,” mused Rachel Weingarten, a personal-brand consultant in New York.

Another New Yorker, 14-year-old Beatrice Landau, tends to agree. She regularly uploads selfies, from vacation shots on Instagram to fleeting images using Snapchat, a phone app that deletes them after 10 seconds.

“I know selfies are ridiculous, but it’s definitely part of our `teenage culture,'” Beatrice said. “You don’t have to have a person with you to take a picture of you, when you can take one yourself.”

Condom features Kiss band member’s pic on latex

 

A condom maker is taking the truism “sex sells” very literally. A new line of the contraceptives puts advertising not just on the wrapper, but the latex itself.unusual-condoms24

Graphic Armor’s new Picture Condoms meet all FDA requirements, and the company claims it’s the first to feature full-color images on the latex. Graphic Armor’s kick-off condom is branded with the rock band Kiss and features a picture of Gene Simmons’ tongue unfurled.

The Kiss official store has added Kiss Condoms available for $4.95 for a 3-pack. The rubbers feature “a wicked red latex coated with a special tongue lubrication,” according to the band’s website.

Gene Simmons explained the latest product introduction saying, “Sex is always embarrassing for people, so when a guy whips out a Kiss condom and there’s Gene Simmons’s tongue hanging out it lightens up the situation.”

Another Kiss version featuring band mate Paul Stanley is slated for June.

Adam Glickman, CEO of condom retailer Condomania, says the creators are in talks with entertainment companies, energy drinks and designers to put logos and messages on the condoms.