Photographic Chinese Whispers

A mutating photography experiment.


This all tailed off rather sharply at the end of 2003. I tried resurrecting it on Flickr, but not everyone got the idea, and the admin interface wasn't that great, at the time (we had a lot of people just adding their photos of China). Maybe it'll come back one day.

What It Is

This project is a version of the Chinese Whispers game where, instead of people whispering a sentence to one another along a line, participants take a digital photograph and pass it on, the next person attempting to take as similar a photo as possible.

We've run one successfully; we tried and failed running three new ones - one whisper as before, another where the participants attempt to copy the "theme" of the previous image, and a third done entirely in Photoshop.

What To Do

The lists of names in the sidebar show who's taking part in each whisper - when you receive an email from the previous person with an image attached, it's your turn. Try to get it done in a couple of days.

For the Standard Whisper, you should take a photo which resembles the previous player's photo as closely as possible. But don't spend days and days collecting the precise objects and finding the perfect background and waiting for the right weather, or anything.

For the Theme Whisper, you should take a photo which has the same theme as the previous one, whatever you think its theme might be.

For the Photoshop Whisper, you should create (in any art program) a fresh canvas of the same size as the previous image, and attempt to recreate the image from scratch. You aren't allowed to cut and paste from the previous image, but you're encouraged to trawl and take your own photos, to get the components you need. (If you find what seems to be the exact same image that your predecessor used, on the web, then resist - but feel free to use a slightly different one.)

After you've done what you need to do, email your picture to the next person on the list, and to (to save me having to run around collecting everything at the end). Names will be crossed out as we progress.

If it gets to your turn and it's a bad time, just pass the picture onto the next person and ask Kevan to kick you down the list a bit. If anyone takes more than four or five days to respond to an email, we'll politely nudge them before passing the game on by default, if they don't reply.

What Not To Do

Unless you're doing the Photoshop Whisper, don't digitally manipulate your submission - you can change the contrast and colour and things a bit, if it makes the picture look better, but don't do anything outlandish like cropping the picture or changing the colour of things.

Don't send huge images - try to keep the image size below 640x480 (if you're doing the Photoshop one, use the same image size), and the file size below 150k; I'll be cutting them down anyway before I put them online.

Don't use any weird file formats - send your images as JPGs, so that they're a reasonable size and everyone can open them.

Past Whispers

1. Plants, Papers, Phones

Standard Whisper

1. Martin
2. Chris
3. Kevan
4. Pixelstar
5. Adam
6. Zarba
7. Chloe
8. Andy
9. Flerdle
10. Holly
11. Lee Ann
12. Alice
13. Simes
14. Joh
15. Beth
16. Pete

Theme Whisper

1. Flerdle
2. Zarba
3. Chloe
4. Pixelstar
5. Kevan
6. Joh
7. Holly
8. Adam
9. Beth
10. Chris
11. Alice
12. Lee Ann
13. Pete
14. Simes
15. Andy

Photoshop Whisper

1. Adam
2. Kevan
3. Holly
4. Pixelstar
5. Beth
6. Joh
7. Zarba