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Interview—Matthew Ware
Written by admin — 22nd October 2015
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The author with his masterpiece and its source

When I was in Sydney last month for the Volume book fair, Matt was my saviour. A fellow Victorian skateboarder with his finger on the pulse of where the free beers were, Matt would regularly drop by The Good Copy stall with a tinnie tip-off or a friendly, world-weary word; it really saved me. He also gave me a copy of his book Snapchat: ABCnews, which I devoured in a single sitting. Hilarious and strangely touching all at once, Snapchat: ABCnews is a selection of screen grabs from Matt’s Snapchat feed, which is populated by a vast cross-section of folk who added him because of his username: ABCnews. I got Sinead to ask him some questions about it, because I had better things to do. – Max

Sinead: Why did you do this?

Matt: Why all the pearls? Why all the hair? Why anything? I made this book because I’m interested in how people interact with technology in new ways, and I was accidentally given a great opportunity to explore that by choosing a good username on Snapchat. I love learning about people, society and cultures and I love found photography, appropriation and curation, and this project brings all those together in a simple yet effective way.

Can you give us a little background on your relationship with Snapchat?

A few years ago, I received a so and so has invited you to join Snapchat message from someone who ended up becoming very important to me. We knew each other already, but our friendship was strengthened significantly by our use of Snapchat, and before long I deleted it because I thought it was stupid and we talked IRL instead and ended up dating. I don’t want the reader to think I’m laughing at or being critical of these people, because, regardless of how funny some of the pictures are (and how stupid I think the app is), they’re all just people living their lives and feeling feels and trying to fit in, like you and me! It is therefore significant that I actually did originally use Snapchat in a pretty similar way to many people who appear in the book (although, at that stage it was still early days, and it was mostly just a funny gimmicky thing, as opposed to the real social network as it has since become).

How did you organise the images? Heaps of the composite shots seem to tell a mini story.

It’s funny, I actually spent a really long time working on the order of the images for an initial draft, but for the final version I ended up leaving almost all of them in chronological order, so it’s no coincidence that they tell a story, because a lot of the images sitting next to each other are actually from the same ‘Story’ on Snapchat. You’ll notice that in the book the first half are all made with an iPhone 4s and the second half with an iPhone 5s, because the ratio is different. I really wanted to lead the reader through a journey that’s sometimes humorous, sometimes mundane and occasionally sinister (or even just plain sad), and by some miracle chronological order seemed to work.

Are there any particular snaps that are your favourites?

Absolutely—I love so many of them. I feel I really have gotten to know some of these people. I love the sequence of the girl falling off the mechanical bull. Screen shotting videos is my favourite because they physically look the best, all pixelated and crunchy. I love the ones from the kids’ birthday party at Chuck E Cheeze (which I did not know was a real thing) and the kid is sitting there looking really bummed out at the giant rat, who I guess is Chuck himself. I was added by a bunch of people from the Middle East who I’m pretty sure work in something to do with the news. Mostly they type in Arabic so I can’t read it. There’s a whole lot of pictures in the book from this super mysterious convention in this crazy building with about 40 men wearing identical, traditional-looking Arabic outfits. I thought that was really cool, but I have no idea what it was about. It was probably some really boring conference. My absolute favourite is the Arabic guy standing in front of a rack of belts. It looks like a classic picture from some lost archive, but instead was taken on an iPhone and sent to me directly.

Do you think language is dead and Snapchat is now the best mode of communication, y/n?

Haha, I hope not. Despite being fascinated with Snapchat, I think its success is a bizarre and sad reflection of the current state of the first world.

And also, you can write a few words on Snapchat if you like, but my favourite aspect is using the in-built speedometer to try and describe how I am feeling:

0km/h = bored and 10km/h = OK

Side note, I wonder if constantly staring at a selfie for ten seconds trying to work out what the person is thinking is messing with our wiring. The flu shot doesn’t cause autism: Snapchat does!

Matt’s book Snapchat: ABCnews is available from The Good Copy Shop and online from Diane Inc.

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