Sunday, April 27, 2014

My New Book

The Shrinking Horizons of Childhood refers to the idea that children are spending less time outside exploring the natural world due to safety fears, increasing urbanization and computers and phones commanding their attention. Richard Louve an American writer and campaigner for the outdoors coined the phrase “Nature Deficit”

Like most parents I worry about how much time my children spend indoors, using technology and I worry about decreasing levels of exercise and about health issues such as obesity and Hyper-stimulation in Childhood. Apart from the dangers for children outside, children themselves are being seen as a ʻthreatʼ to society by playing football in the streets or simply being out and about.

We bring adult ideas of how children should be, control their activities and over schedule their lives to the extent that their is little agency or autonomy for children themselves, in short we donʼt trust children.We keep them “safe” in their glass boxes like exotic birds from the Rainforest. One child told me that nature outside doesn't look as colourful as it does on the TV and that everything outside is to far away.
It took me a long while to find a visual vocabulary for it as I want to avoid the look of typical children's charities and somehow bring the outdoors inside , so I hit on the idea of reflections and windows in the end.The problem with reflections is, even if you can eliminate yourself, that you can't see anything inside and as I didn't want the commercial look of flash photography , I needed to find windows with someone outside to reflect and also the right moment when I would get some low sunlight. What's interesting is the children are both alone indoors but connected to the world with their phones and screens. Shot on my Medium format RZ67 Camera with Colour negative film.

MIKE O'TOOLE Photographer, Director, Lecturer, Coach 

The Book project is part of a series of books called 'Where We Are' Just Released, Limited copies.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Shrinking Horizons of Childhood

“The Shrinking Horizons of Childhood”   
  Mike O’Toole

O’Toole questions the role of nature as a traditional place of sanctuary or as a place to find relaxation, when today the new sanctuary is the indoors, where children watch TV or computer screens. The new “Ideal environment” is now the indoors and the virtual, with the result that more and more children understand the natural world only through computer games, the internet and TV. In the developed world, children are becoming more detached from their own environment. In this series we see children alone, either cut off from the outside, or in an awkward embrace with the outdoors.

O’Toole photographed his own children and children of his neighbours and extended family. In most of the photographs the children are presented as “safe” in their glass boxes, like exotic birds from the rainforest. Although the environment is no more dangerous than at any other time in history, parents worry about what ‘might happen’ outdoors. Moreover, children are seen as separate from nature, and a ‘threat’ to society by playing football in the streets or by simply being out and about in the landscape.Our ideas about Nature like our ideas about childhood are always changing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New photos

New photo...same project, same concerns..been invited to exhibit these images in Dublin.
link to

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Play Again

 A new film brought to my attention by photographer and writer Kate Horgan that highlights the same issues that my project set out to do: