As a stay-at-home dad who sidelines as a writer, I will admit I worship my smartphone. Its ability to keep me connected to friends who I don’t get to see very often, capture memories with my son, check calendar events, look up directions, and yes, play obsessive amounts of Magic the Gathering: Arena are all part and parcel of my day to day life. But there are times when I wonder what it would be like if I was much more detached from the digital realm, without being completely away from reach. Minus the screen, plus the capabilities.
It’s for reasons like that that Punkt, based out of Switzerland, created the MP02. The MP02 is a voice phone only, meaning it isn’t optimized for gazing at pictures and is absolutely free of apps, and that’s the point: the ability to reach others and be reached without the visually arresting format to which we have become accustomed (or even addicted). It makes sense, then, that the chief demographic that would be interested in this are early-to-middle-aged smartphone users who are looking to consciously minimize their screen time; digital disconnectors for short. What Punkt succeeds at doing is adhering to a minimalist, sleek design, while maintaining secure, protected information handling.
But all of that is a bit moot without its audience understanding the value the product is proposing, and that’s where this video comes in. Glenn Webb’s enlistment is a particularly strong choice. His photography for brands such as Wrangler and GRLSWIRL showcases an unflinching artfulness that is as careful with framing as it is with colour. What’s particularly important is the overall feeling of his work, an impression on the viewer that is at once contemporary but timeless.
So it follows that the minute-long spot is a veritable treasure trove of scenes, as intimate as they are spectral. In the follow-up “making of video,” Webb confirms this was his intent. “I’ve been carrying these around for weeks,” he says as he unfolds Cézanne and Heda prints. “I wanted to recreate them in real life.” He points out the palette of colours of Cézanne in particular, “Chose this one for the colours – deep tones in there.” And indeed the recreation is faithful without pantomime. The scenes that play out feel like a yearning for connection. It’s a particularly apt feeling to evoke in the viewer, coming off the heels of a protracted pandemic and divisive political period.
Inviting the audience to disengage from the status quo of constant reachability at work and at home is a fruitful endeavour, but most times when we’re invited to do so it feels either wishy-washy or condescending. In this case, however, the acknowledgment that you do not need to break away completely allows a middle ground. When asked what it’s like being a photographer without a smartphone, Webb firmly states, “It’s not much different. I still use a computer, an iPad, social media – I just see it less because it’s not in my pocket.”
And it is holding those two separate urges and creating an overlapping solution that is conveyed. The fact that it’s done in such a captivating style is a credit to the team responsible for carrying out the vision for the spot.