confusing and constantly changing. Now the answer is available at the click of a button. “Oh yes – that’s who I am. That person there.”
Where this has led us
As cameras have become more available and photography more convenient, we have started to record ever more aspects of our lives. An event is not complete, is not really real, until it has been photographed.
The danger is that we start to experience our lives only to record and to “share” them. We stop participating in our own life while we live it and delay our own involvement for a later time when we can experience our life again, in company, in recorded form. We are constantly watching ourselves and turning our lives into photo opportunities, our experiences no longer have any meaning or value outside of that record which is produced of them.
In the 1990s Josh Harris, an internet pioneer and dot-com entrepreneur, predicted the internet would replace the one-way feed of TV and lead us into a system where our lives were constantly monitored, shared and judged, our every moment made public for the scrutiny of others. He created nightmarish experiments of constant surveillance in a precursor to the world we are in the process of constructing for ourselves.
He stated: “Years ago lions and tigers were kings of the jungle and one day they wound up in zoos. I suspect we’re on the same track”.5 His dystopian vision mirrors Huxley’s Brave New World, but without the need for top-down control: we watch ourselves and each other. It could be argued that Harris’ bleak predictions were well-founded and that our desire to record ourselves has made us all actors in our lives for others to watch and record.
We are constantly watching ourselves and turning our lives into photo opportunities, our experiences no longer have any meaning or value.
I recently visited the Louvre in Paris and was inevitably drawn to the Mona Lisa. I joined the wild rugby scrum of approximately sixty to one-hundred people jostling for position behind the rope some three metres from the bullet-proof glass covering the small canvas. It is the least conducive atmosphere to artistic contemplation I have ever experienced outside a pub fight.
The fighting and jostling, the distance from the painting and its diminutive size were not the most off-putting aspects of this experience; it was this: once the visitors had elbowed their way to the front, they raised their cameras, took a photo, and left. No effort was made to look at the painting at all – just a record