So, I did a fun little project in class that I thought I would share with you guys 🙂
I’m taking this class called “Contemporary Directions in Photography”, which sounds interesting, but to be honest, has not been the greatest thrill of a class. We’ve been talking about a bunch of photographers who deal primarily with appropriation, particularly things like Google Street View, and things like that. I know we’ve talked about other things, but it just keeps going back to something like that, so it’s all I can think of. Our first project was to make something in response to “screen culture”, meaning, the culture in which we now live where nearly everything is presented to us via a screen, consuming out lives. I mean, think about it… I’m sitting here typing this to you on a computer, with my phone on the desk. You’ll see this on either one of those two things, or a tablet, or something else. We watch TV, have GPS, are constantly monitored by security cameras, traffic cameras, you name it. The list literally goes on an on.
I don’t really like that. I know, it’s nice, and convenient, and we’ve all gotten to the point where we think, “How can I live without my (enter technology here)!?!?!”. The truth is, it’s too much, though that probably won’t change any of my current habits.
What that did get me thinking about was how things have changed so drastically just over my lifetime. When I was little, we had one TV in the house, and that was it. We didn’t even have a wireless phone. We didn’t get our first computer until I was in 7th grade, and I didn’t get my first cell phone until I could pay for it at 18, and it wasn’t “smart” at all.
Then I started thinking about photography. To this day, my mother likes to take pictures of everything that happens to us which she is present for; the camera is out on birthdays, Christmas, parties, vacation, you name it, she’s snapping away. The only difference is that now, everything is digital. All of the pictures that she’s taken over the last 15 years or so, that’ I’ve been there for, and have most likely been in, I’ve never seen. Growing up, everything was on film for us, so we could just flip through the photo albums, or anxiously await for a roll of film to get developed to see whatever it is we took photos of a couple weeks ago. Regardless of the why, the what is that we actually had pictures to look at. Tangible, physical things, not just digital files to be tucked away and ignored.
I suppose what started this train of thought was something(s) I read over the last few years. This current generation will be the most photographed generation in the history of photography. Wrap your head around that. They will also be the generation with the least amount of photographs. Double wrap your head around that. Isn’t that crazy? People are obsessed in taking pictures for Instagram and Snapchat, posting things to Facebook and Tumbler, and Twitter, and you name it. In a blink of an eye, however, an update of technology, a glitch in the system, it could all be lost forever. You can argue that the same could be said for film photos, since you know, disasters happen, but I don’t think the majority of people taking all these pictures realize just how fragile they are.
So I began thinking about all the photos that I had that existed in only a digital state. When I went through my photo back up, it appears that my digital era started circa 2003, so that’s a good 12-13 years of photos that I’ve never printed. I decided to start printing every photo that I’ve ever taken, so that when everything goes south with how I have these stored (since some of them are originally stored on CDs…yikes), I will at least have a physical copy of the image, and of the memory.
Now, I didn’t realize how much of an undertaking this would be. I started with 2003….ok, not much there…then 2004…same….2005, 2006, eh….then 2007…over 1000 pictures. I think that was the year I bought myself my “first real camera”, my little Cannon Powershot (loved that thing). After that, it’s essentially all down hill. Looking through my Lightroom catalog that I started in September of last year, I already have over 5000 photos that I’ve taken. That’s a lot for essentially only six month’s worth of work! So since this project only had to be a “proof of concept” I decided to stop there for the moment. That, and I had to replace the ink in my printer…again…so I was annoyed at how quick that went by, and how expensive ink is. But look…!
That’s pretty cool, right? The first five years of my photo taking history, over 1500 photos, all printed and wrapped up in a nice little bowl. Well, not wrapped, but you know what I mean, it’s a cute little presentation. I wanted to have it in a vessel which would allow people to interact with it, swirl their hands around, grab chunks of photos, and just check out what was going on in there. I also started writing on the back of them, which is something I think I want to revisit should I ever complete this project. I might just start over, because the printing size in inconsistent (I was a little indecisive when completing this project), so that will give me a chance to write on everything. I did the writing prior to cutting the strips of photos, once I started writing, which gave another interesting element to the project, since now there are also little puzzles hidden in there.
I have to say, I’m rather fond of it, and I’m glad that this project seemed to be well received. I’m sure I’ll finish it up one day, but the longer I wait, the more I’ll be printing. Oh well, it’s not like I’m busy or anything, right? The question I keep getting is, “well how many photos do you have all together?” I have no clue. Too many to count, I would say, but I guess I’ll be finding out soon!
Oh, and incase you’re wondering if there’s really that many photos in there, there are. Here’s what they look like all together, because you know, I needed just one more thing to do on my list, so I collaged 1500 pictures 🙂