"What isn't remembered never happened."
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Late last night, I deleted every non-integrated app I had on my phone bar VSCOCam, Instagram, Commbank and Weatherzone. I’ve been going through my dashboard here and Instagram unfollowing a lot of blogs and people too. I’m an artwork job or two away from abandoning Facebook altogether. If you have some zany way of knowing, it’s nothing personal.
The difference between the lives people present online, and the world as it actually is, is widening beyond my ability to mentally handle anymore. There’s this gap between what you see of someone online and what you see of them in real life that has been bothering me for a long while and I’m at a point where I only want to know people as they actually are. I don’t want a showreel, or a series of selected highlights. I don’t want oddly intimate yet personally flattering details about anyone. I don’t want to feel like I know people when really, I don’t. I know less than 10% of the people on my Facebook account. I don’t really know many of the people on Instagram or Tumblr either, photographers and artists and columnists notwithstanding.
I’ve been slowly withdrawing my personality from the internet for a while for this reason. I don’t want to put too much of myself into this thing. I’m happy to share the things I see, the work I create, but there is a lot that is for real conversation only, not the online sphere.
For someone who has depended on the internet for a long time, over a decade of heavy use, it’s hard to push it out of your life. Really, that’s an understatement and a half. I have leaned on the internet consistently through my teens and twenties for help from people I don’t know, to the detriment of real world relationships. I have hidden behind text walls because talking about issues has always been too hard for me in the real world. I have relied for a long time on friendships that have no tangible value, just words on a screen. My mental health has often hinged on those friendships, rather than physical ones. I had given myself a narrative long ago where the real world chewed me up and spat me out and the only people I could count on were display pictures in chat windows. I still sometimes believe it, but that mentality has to go.
I don’t want two or three fragmented versions of everyone I know. And I don’t want there to be two or three fragmented versions of myself. I am me, whole. And you are you, whole. But only in the real world.
On Friday night I watched a film called Snowpiercer. If you’re not familiar with the film, I recommend you watch it. It brought up a lot of ideas that I feel quite strongly about in the world we exist in now, so I apologise in advance for the spoilers through the rest of this post.
The one concept in the film that really left an impression on me was the idea imposed upon passengers that everyone has their preordained place in the world, and without that balance, the world collapses. Further, that the main character chose to, for all intents and purposes, destroy what was left of mankind rather than subject anyone to that system any longer. And upon the train being utterly wrecked, that the survivors discovered that the world outside the train was not as inhospitable as they were told, through abject fear, to believe for the last 17 years. That life did in fact continue beyond their closed ecosystem.
There is something really powerful in all that. We’re already there, I think. The Earth itself is a closed ecosystem, with no input from outside sources. And humanity can also be considered a closed system too. Even with 7 billion people living 7 billion different lives of wildly varying social and economic situation, you can quite easily argue that the same system of oppression that exists in the world of Snowpiercer exists on a macro level on Earth already, and has done for a very, very long time.
We are put in our place. We have the illusion of freedom, but perhaps that’s all it is. Does this not frighten anyone else? Look at something right down at a personal level, like social networking. You’re made to be afraid of what you’re missing out on by not being connected. If you don’t have a smartphone, you’re missing out. Disconnected. The rhetoric that’s put out there is the same as the wider picture, the same as the train. If we stop networking, we’re done. But it’s a lie. I gave up everything besides Tumblr for a year, and my life didn’t ‘freeze and die’. Life continues regardless. You can retrofit this narrative onto so many things. People think it’s weird to own a bike instead of a car, as though without a car you’ll be an amputee socially. Not true, entirely false. Anything outside the normal, preordained system we’re taught to play along with is considered borderline anarchic by some. False.
I want to live in a shack in the woods, grow my own food and live in peace. Life continues on outside the system.
Hey man, love your photos! The OM-1 is a lovely and reliable camera, don't you think? I own one too but I'm not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination. What draws you to using only 35mm though?|
Thank you for the kind words, and sorry for taking so long to reply to this; I didn’t get a chance while I was away. The OM-1 was my grandfather’s and I’ve been shooting with it for 5 or 6 years now on and off. It takes a long time to really get used to the capabilities of a camera and I’m still learning about this one. It has a bit of an issue with a misfiring mirror but it’s a minor detail at this point.
I don’t really know how best to explain why film gives me the feeling of satisfaction I can’t get from digital, but I’ll give it a go. Movies shot on film feel different to those shot on HD cameras. Vinyl records sound different to CDs. Analogue aesthetic is something that’s hard to pin down and describe.
For me, the draw to film has a lot to do with a learned acceptance and love of film photographs for being fantastic exactly as they are, with only minor adjustment. I put my digital equipment away for nearly a year at one point and only shot on 35mm during that time, and it was a good way to realise that you don’t make a photograph good with a computer. You make it good with your hands and eyes. Film takes all the emphasis off what you could do to it, and puts what you’re doing with the camera in the moment. If forces you to look for good light, not create it in post-production. I like it because it makes you think about how the film you have will react to certain situations, not what Lightroom can do for you.
I prefer to create with my hands, in the moment, not sit and make an image something it never was, I suppose. And besides, aren’t we all mostly just trying to make our digital photographs look like film anyway?
Thanks for the question.