Preflections

14 11 2007

Hi there, reader. Hope you feel like reading about popular photography, because that’s what I’m writing.

It occurred to me, as someone was taking a picture at a party, how, at some point, it became normal to smile for pictures. In the earliest days of photography, nobody smiled. This was for one of three reasons:

  1. They’d never seen a camera and didn’t know what was a-goin’ on
  2. They were suffering from chronic “dignity”
  3. Life was horrible and they had either just witnessed a murder or were being stopped on their way to a murder

Same with paintings: I’ve seen very few historic portraits that feature full-toothed smiles, and those that do are titled something like “Bacchus’ Triumph” or “The Idiot”. Until recently, it just wasn’t cool to be immortalized as looking happier than cool.

Then I got to thinking about how technology is affecting our sense of identity, which led me to writing:

A Rough Evolution of The Human Self-Concept

  1. See own hands and body (if keen, notice tip of own tongue and own nose)
  2. Hear own voice
  3. See own reflection in water or mirror (note: always looking right at you)
  4. Hear own voice in echo (terrain permitting)
  5. See self imitated by someone who does a really good imitation of you
  6. See own likeness in painting
  7. See own likeness in photograph
  8. Hear own voice on phonograph
  9. See and hear self in motion picture
  10. See and hear self in live camera feed (e.g., Handycam display at Best Buy)
  11. Hang out with self in virtual reality
  12. Lose track of which is which
  13. Become reflection
  14. Go insane

Right. Well, back to what I’m supposed to be doing.
As you were,
MPh

Currently eating: limes
Favorite idea: hypnotic billboards for accident lawyers


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4 responses

15 11 2007
Sally

Yayy! You wrote something!
I knew I could count on you.
…Of all citrus, you chose limes?

18 11 2007
Mr Jones

Nice list Mike. I feel as if the Apollo 8 astronauts seeing the first “earthrise” after orbiting the moon ought to fit in here somewhere. I guess they don’t as that was their home rather than bodies they were seeing in a new light. Pretty powerful image though. And that one didn’t lead to madness but lucidity.

20 11 2007
Required Name

See, I always thought that folks didn’t smile in portraits and early photos because it was simply impossible to grin long enough for the picture/painting to be produced. Thinking this only leads me to realize that you are funnier than me…

18 06 2009
James

Thanks for the information, I’m an avid phonograph fan and have been researching (and buying) them for over 10 years now!

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