There’s little doubt in our minds that one of the appeals of Apple’s hardware is its very attractive and shiny aesthetic design. Apple knows this too, since it spends a great deal of time and effort on industrial design, even to the point of being one of the few companies that boats a Chief Design Officer sitting among its very highest echelon, alongside the more classic roles of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer — positions above and beyond even Senior Vice Presidents.
As a result, most of us tend to go to great lengths to keep our Apple devices looking new and shiny, and a whole marketplace of third-party accessories have been created entirely for this purpose, ranging from ultra-protective cases and screen protectors, to advanced cleaning solutions.
On the flip side, however, there are those who really don’t care as much about keeping their devices as showpieces as opposed to actually using them as part of their lives, and now 9to5Mac has highlighted a new photography project by New York City-based artist Elvin Hu that shows “the human side of technology” — photos of Apple devices that have been well-loved by their owners and have the battle scars to show for it.
The project is intended to show how technology products have a unique “fingerprint” that comes from the marks and imperfections that ordinary humans leave behind, suggesting that this is worthy of not only examining, but actually celebrating.
Just as no two fingerprints are identical, mass-produced products become personal and individualized after they get used.Photographer Elvin Hu
Hu chose to focus specifically on Apple products as part of his photo study due to a long affinity for Apple — in fact he says that he first learned English by watching Apple keynotes. Hu’s first challenge was actually gathering a collection of older Apple devices that showed a good amount of normal everyday wear and tear.
Once he had built up a collection, he photographed each product with a Canon 5D Mark IV wirelessly tethered to an iPad Pro, mirroring Apple’s style of product photography in order to try and evoke the same look. Hu then edited the images and created final prints of a scuffed iPod touch, cracked Apple Watch, worn Apple leather iPhone case, and an iPad Pro, and posted them around Brooklyn, New York, as if they were a legitimate ad campaign.
The images themselves have evoked a certain sense of nostalgia, particularly in the case of the iPod touch, for which Hsu used one of the considerably older models that shares the same style of polished chrome back found on Apple’s classic iPods — a backing that showed scratches far more prominently than any other product Apple ever released. Hu notes that brand new products don’t really elicit much of an emotional response at all, noting that it’s the wear and tear that makes devices feel more personal, and connects people with the memories of their devices.
The photography project is now on display in The Cooper Union in New York City, where it will run from May 20th until June 9th. Hu’s work can also be found on his portfolio site and on his Instagram profile.