Thursday, October 02, 2003
What is the purpose of pictures? Why do we take them, and why are they significant within our culture? Does anyone look at the pictures we take with the same appreciation as the one who either took the photo or is in the photo? Why do we compile thousands of pictures over the course of a lifetime, only to see them go into a bookcase never to be looked at again? Do we, the picture takers, enjoy these pictures during our lifetime? What purpose do they serve? A photograph is perishable. It will not survive over time. Neither will we. Why do having pictures in our computer hard drive or on our book shelf make us feel more secure? For sentimental purposes? What gratification do we get from having ourselves printed on a hard copy? We can NEVER relive the days in the photographs ever again. At the moment we snap a photograph, we decide the moment is worth preserving, but the truth is this: only the person who was there at the moment the photograph was snapped will understand the meaning behind the photograph. An objective viewer of the photograph might very well assert his or her ideas about why the photograph is significant, but he cannot really know the true significance any more than we today understand the significance behind cave art. We can't know why the images we look at in caves today were important to people thousands of years ago. We don't know what their day to day lives were like, nor can we expect that our own suppositions or assertions about what they might have felt when they made this art could have been. It is impossible to know what is unknowable. Pictures portray a moment in time, however, they cannot transfer the feelings, emotions, and day to day lives of the people of the photographs. It seems as though human beings want to believe that their life will be significant. We try to etch into a hard copy, if you will, a representation of a moment that will never be again. We want to believe that our children, and our children's children, and their children will cherish our lives after we are long gone. However, the reality is that reality is here and now. Snapping it in a photograph will never make the here and now real every again. We live moment to moment, and accumulate our memories, then die. Those things die with us. Photographs then become nothing more than the services of a taxidermist: a stuffed animal. It was once a living, breathing thing, but now sits and looks with glass eyeballs. It is an empty carcass to the viewer. Photographs are much of the same thing: empty to anyone who wasn't there that day when someone said, "Let me grab the camera."



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