Monday, 19 October 2009
Endless wittering about photography
A friend who works at the film department at Bristol University described how students would look at 2 minutes of a film on youtube, reference that and think it was enough. They were unable to bear the pace of any film that was slow and nuanced in any way. So, sure, they knew the basic plot of All about Eve or Lawrence of Arabia but they had never watched them because they were too 'boring'.
Though she recognized how great the internet is, she questioned whether it really deepened our knowledge of anything, or merely trivialized it, transforming communally shared cinematic, televisual, musical and photographic experiences into little tidbits or random experiential-factoids without history, context or commentary.
She commented on fashion designers who withhold their ideas from the internet - mainly because they will be copied and sold by ripoff merchants around the world, but also because the internet degrades the consumer experience - it is not the way we shop.
In the same way, I wonder if photography and art isn't degraded by the internet, if looking at pictures on the internet isn't remarkably similar to watching 2 minutes of All About Eveon youtube and checking out the number of stars on IMDB and imagining it's the same as watching the movie.
We all know the people who don't have websites/blogs because they don't theoretically need websites, but I think there will a lot more people who won't have websites/blogs because they don't like websites or blogs - because they don't do anything for their work except degrade it, trivialise it and turn it to the subject of (Tim Hetherington again) 'endless wittering.'
(And with that, here's some new work from the summer. It used to be the cliche about photography that you couldn't show kids smiling or laughing (that was all the family album/school picture thing) but really, how many pictures do we have of people smiling/laughing that isn't sheer whimsy. I can think of a few but any other ideas - smiling and laughing beyond whimsy?)