RETRO 2007: Ice Mirror with Tree . . .
On the road in the Northwest of America.
Thoughts on a Future Photography I
As I see it, one of the primary opportunities presented by the
nearly universal ascendancy of digital technologies is the elimination
of waste. Witness: Paper = forest + streams; Distribution = noise + oil
+ pollution; Chemicals = water + air.
When I walk into a local grocery and see a pile of trucked-in
newspapers from a distant big city I cringe with shame. "Such waste!",
I think to myself. When I see a stack of commercial music CDs I feel
pity. I wish them a double good-riddens, both for the musical junk
on them as well as the hundreds of years it will take before they
And when I see collections of photos, even beautifully produced
large framed prints in upscale galleries, I see only question marks.
Even my own photos. In contrast, the life blood and spiritual essence
of poetry and music is unquestionably live performance, that unique
and special place where the hearts and minds of musician and
audience come together in the ritual of concert. Then when I think
of recordings I say, "Cheap digital surrogate rubbish."
But photographs? What is key to me is the image itself, and not its
mode of physical representation. What is key is its potential
significance, its meaning, relevance, beauty, its possible impact.
I see it like this: I do my work with my the display facing me; And
when I'm finished I turn the display around to face the world. Full stop.
No production waste; no distribution waste. That's real revolution. So
why don't governments catch on? Typically and tragically, politicians,
who have as far as I can tell world-wide mostly legal backgrounds—
convenient for defending themselves against claims of corruption, but
less happily suited for seeing the more profound societal implications
of science and new technology—see the web for obvious reasons mostly
as a convenient means for amassing in small micro increments cash
and power. Whereas the real 'roll around,' in my view, is this simple
turning of the display, of the nearly instantaneous transformation of
meaning from private to public in the mere switching of the direction
of the screen. Notice that this movement of shift from inward to outward
has always been an essential part of human communication. Someone
has the idea of freedom and that idea must be communicated to the
world. But the movement has never been so empowered. And that,
in my opinion, is both as wonderful and exciting as it is wholly
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