Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Point and Shoot: Cameras and Photography in the Contemporary Age and Their Effect On Those That Use Them."

Technology made possible an ever increasing spread of that mentality which looks at the world as a set of potential photographs. - Susan Sontag
Aka 'The Instagram State-of-Mind.'

Curious to me our modern impulse to photograph everything. Curious to me that I too experience this impulse- because don't think for a moment that I'm exempting myself. I recently Tweeted a photograph of my pencil underlining the very book I just quoted from, so you know, implicit in the thing I'm talking about.

But why do we? Not why do we take photographs, obviously- but why do we increasingly photograph everything? In my own lifetime, I've seen cameras go from things that were used to take photos at family events (when we remembered to pack the camera, which was patchy at best) to devices that are embedded in our mobile phones, so enfolded into how we perceive the world that we hardly notice how frequently we use them. Why do we feel the impulse to catalogue the smallest details of our lives, and not only that, but catalogue them for an audience of peers (and, increasingly  strangers)? I guess it adds a connection, a hook between strangers to share experiences and satiate our curiosity... but what does it mean for how we conceptualise our lives? To see the world at a distance even while we are enmeshed in the moment of experience? Because isn't the very act of taking a photograph to step back from your position as one who is in-amongst to a position of observer, of archivist? 

Someone needs to write a thesis on this. Maybe for my next one... Jokes! JOKES. 
O man. 
Way to give myself a heart attack.

But seriously- Instagram users. Do you ever question the impulse? It's kind of curious, isn't it?


  1. sometimes, but then I keep thinking of what people on the internet say- "pics or it didnt happen". haha

  2. Someone (sort of) has... You might find this interesting:


    (PS. your blog is great)

  3. Alice, I just read this and thought of your comment: "ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form" (Sontag, p24).