Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Snap, Click and Yodel

"Photography has meaning only if it exhausts all possible images."

The March/April issue of Art on Paper contained a wonderful treasure, a fictional story called The Adventure of a Photographer by Italo Calvino.* The editors chose to reprint this fictional story on its 50th anniversary. It is a cleverly insightful text on photography within a fictional story.

The main character, a skeptic Antonino Paraggi--attempts to capture and create the perfect photograph. He questions the pursuit of the perfect photograph by his friends and family, that snapshot capturing the perfect moments, rather than the often sticky, dirty unflattering moments of daily life.

Calvino reflects that "Photographed reality immediately takes on a nostalgic character, of joy fled on the wings of time, a commemorative quality, even if the picture was taken the day before yesterday. And the life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself."

Last week, I was amused to read an article by Michelle Slatalla in the New York Times, Lights, Camera, Inaction - which shows that human nature's need to capture images hasn't changed, while the technology with which to do so has. The new Flip video camera - allows seamlessly simple video capture, which truly is just about idiot proof. Take out of box, push record button, plug into computer - voila, you're you-tubing down the video stream.

I find myself wondering, while family videos of Slatalla's article seem to have the same nostalgic quality as Calvino's snapshots, does the new and constant stream of public voyeurism wash it away? The DIY look from the quality to the abrupt editing of this endless supply of video doesn't feel nostalgic to me. I love to feed my gluttonous appetite--spending hours clicking from images of hula-hooping to yodeling french bulldog puppies to screen print demonstrations. (This also contributes to my ever-increasing attention deficit disorder.)

Taken one step further, my studiomates at Space 1026 have started communicating in emails with YouTube links - video streams are becoming a vernacular. It can feel quite peculiar, but also brilliant if you have patience. Whole jokes are told through an email message thread simply through video links. I wonder, could we develop a new way language for communicating based on a constant metaphorical form video stream?

Phew, forgive me for the digression into a metaphysical utopia of technology. I need to look at more puppies.

Goodbye for now,

*I encourage you to support Art on Paper magazine, but the story is also readily available on the internet through google searches.

PS: I'm starting to feel like this puppy...

1 comment:

FirstPersonArts said...

Hey, Great to see a fresh post! The things that tend to percolate to the top at YouTube and SN sites are typically those with the least narrative complexity. But if you just scratch the surface, there's an incredible burgeoning world of visual literacy springing from the accessibility of tools that, quite literally, were unavailable a few short years ago.