Ancient cave paintings. Portraits of kings. The family photo album. From pre-history to yesterday’s graffiti on the freeway bridge, we humans have a deep “Kilroy was here” urge to mark our presence. (Maybe the entire history of art is nothing more than the human equivalent of dogs peeing on trees.) Not only to let others know that we were here, but to document for ourselves the arch of our ever-changing self. Save for a rainy day the photos of old girlfriends (“now, what was her name again?), the Woodstock ticket, the babies grown kids grown adults grown parents.
But when someone had the bright idea of cameras on cell phones, that natural urge went into intense overdrive. The ratio between living and documenting the living has always been high on the side of the living— now it seems we’re crossing the line where we’re documenting almost half of what we’re living. Today’s conversations:
“Here’s a shot of today’s breakfast.”
“Here’s me and my friends at the coffee shop. Here we are the next day. And here we are at the bar that night.”
“Hey check out this photo of us. Man those were good times.”
“But didn’t you just take this yesterday?”
Not only is every moment available for documentation, but then there’s the storage and organization and by the way, who has time to look at these things? There’s some 10 family photo albums on my bookshelves with perhaps 50 photos each over the past 40 years. Today we shoot 500 photos in a week! Do the math. Is life long enough to document, organize and review?
And I’m talking, as always, to myself here. These 650 plus blogs are my own photo library in words. But running experience through the neuron circuitry of language has a different feel than clicking the photo and I think a different effect. At any rate, it’s all footprints in the sand, eventually washed away by the tide.
Hey, anyone want to see my photos of the footprints?