You want to know the truth? I’ve had enough of this nonsense. I guess I’ve been seeing it for about three or so years now and to begin with I thought it was curious, interesting, a quirk of the times we live in, but today, and I don’t know why this had to be the day, I just decided that I’ve had enough of it and I’m going to speak out about it. I have no idea whether making this statement will make one jot of difference to this ‘phenomenon’ but at least I will have made a record of my objection and can pray that maybe, just maybe, people will begin to show just a little more awareness of how irritating it is.
What on earth am I squawking on about this time? There’ll be no pictures in this rant, for reasons that will become obvious, so let me ‘paint’ a picture for you. Here I am, in Bangkok, end of another shoot, resting up before flying back to Sydney this evening. I’m having lunch by the pool, feeling about as good as James Brown ( back when he was feeling..... ), relaxed, minding my own business generally; but my eye is drawn camera left, to this guy, fully dressed, arm outstretched, holding out his ‘smart’ phone, walking, panning, capturing the pool area in all its glory, presumably as a moving picture show. Ok so it’s possible that he has promised his wife/girl-friend/children/best buddy or someone not lucky enough to be at this hotel, that he’ll send some shots. That would be lovely. The thing that gets me though is that half way through this shot that could potentially rival Ray Liota’s club entry scene in Goodfellas, while still walking, still shooting, he just looks somewhere completely different, taking his eye off the shot altogether for two or three seconds before resuming this act of spray coverage. Is this cause for a full blown rant you wonder? On a one off? clearly no, I’d need to check myself into a clinic if I thought so. But firstly, and slightly sadly surreally, this poor subject of rant was followed by another not far behind ( maybe they’re married to twin sisters or something, both under threat of death if they default on their promise ). This guy was doing much the same. Were they making some sort of generalised video of the state of the garden around the pool or at least doing it as part of a survey of some sort? I wish they were but I seriously doubt it. Body language and expression etc suggested not. My suspicion is that they are simply new generation home movie makers, going through the motions with little idea of where they will lead.
Some of you might remember home movie makers. Those lovely people who took their Super 8 mm film cameras on their holidays and shot landmarks etc so that when they got home they could invite their friends and neighbours around for a drink and sandwich while the offending film maker showed off the fruits of his ( usually his not her) efforts. Occasionally the film maker in question had developed some skills and the travelogue had a narrative of sorts, possibly even edited, to much unspoken relief from the audience. And traditionally there was usually a revenge screening from other members of the party at some other times of the year. Regardless it was at least cause for a social gathering and in the days when travel was still 'mysterious' the first hand narrative that often accompanied this moving picture show was even, occasionally, interesting.
But now, and I promise to drop the blood pressure very soon, it’s generally just shit heaped upon shit. It goes nowhere. Sure You Tube is the suppository for some of this material but of the gazillion megapixels of captured material I suspect less than .5% is saved from being jettisoned into the virtual atmosphere ( is that the ‘almostphere’?)
Next time you’re lucky enough to visit one of the world’s great galleries or sights of historic significance have a look around you at the people ( in a pause from marveling at the art ) and take note of the number of point and shoot cameras or phones that are spraying the walls with zeros and ones. It’s just too much. It’s so appalling I’m calling for a global moratorium on random snapping. Sure we should all have our freedom to do as we please in most respects but in actual fact that is exactly what this is about: respect. People of the world put down the cameras and look; look now. Respect where you are and why. Forget some plan to race through the gallery as quickly as possibly creating your own catalogue for personal perusal at a table for four later, consequently resolving the need for conversation. Just don’t go if that’s your plan, google the bloody art, get fifteen variously pixelated pics in Google image and ‘check it out’. Then real art and culture lovers can have more oxygen, space and an even greater experience. Put away the phones and happy snappers and enjoy the scene, whatever it might be, for what it is now.
This isn't photographic snobbery I assure you. It’s just gob smacked frustration at this rampant culture of spray camming everything in sight. Granted it’s probably not physically polluting because I expect most of it is deleted almost as fast as it’s ‘created’, so that’s a positive. I do suspect however that it’s mentally polluting, causing us, as a species, to become more and more obsessed with filling our lonely and self conscious time, especially away from our home environments, with a contemporary form of scratching, nit-picking, twitching, throat clearing behavior that serves to mask our fear of engaging with the ‘real’ world. Please don’t ask me what the ‘real world’ is, because that could send me off again, but I presume you know what I mean. I honestly think we’re in the grips of a kind of insanity that has always been bubbling in our psyches somewhere but now it seems we’ve lost our way big time.
I won’t go on.