Thursday, April 7, 2011

Instant Classic.

While in graduate school, my dear friend Chris introduced me to several important things: the multifaceted use of the word "genius" for all manner of descriptors, the benefits of watching late night TV, what it means for something to be "obsession-worthy", that it is possible to survive on Hot Pockets and Coke, and an introduction to a plethora of genius songs, stories, authors, poets, musicians, and movies, like Bottle Rocket and Kicking and Screaming.

Filmed in 1995, this movie follows the story of four friends who've just graduated from college and are in what I refer to as the Wasteland of Their Existence. They're too old to live at home, too young to really have a clue. They're the kids who have not decided to go to law school or med school or work for a consulting firm. They're a little bit lost, but they have a diploma, by darn, and a dilettante's knowledge of a lot of things that will get them somewhere. They're just not exactly sure where.

There's a scene between two of the lead roles that goes like this:

Max: I'm too nostalgic. I'll admit it.
Grover: We graduated four months ago. What can you possibly be nostalgic for?
Max: I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I've begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I'm reminiscing this right now. I can't go to the bar because I've already looked back on it in my memory...and I didn't have a good time.

I feel like this sometimes, like I have some strange preemptive nostalgia, especially with regards to my children. I'm sad about them going to kindergarten before they even go there, missing the days we spent together destroying the house with scissors, popsicle sticks and a hot glue gun. I look at photos of them as babies and it seems like decades ago, not a few years. Such are the tricks of the mind when it's dedicated to a never-ending job and doesn't get much sleep.

I don't get a ton of sleep because, for one, my two year old is terribly spoiled and prefers to sleep with me rather than alone. I also just got a new iPhone, and I can't seem to stop playing Words with Friends. Or checking my email. Or the weather.

When I finally joined the digital age and turned in my "soccer mom" LG (the Verizon guy's words, not mine), I didn't anticipate finding my new phone so "obsession worthy", to fall so totally in love with a piece of technology. But a few days after having said phone, I told Jay he may have to stage an intervention.

He laughed. I didn't.

With the exception of my recent aforementioned addiction to Words with Friends, I really haven't downloaded too many apps; I'm trying to keep myself in check. But I recently stumbled across Instagram after seeing photos taken with this application on The Pioneer Woman blog. This application allows you to take photos and then manipulate them in all manner of ways by changing the color, contrast, light, and texture. All by tapping a little icon.

Now. I know all of you real photographers out there see this as a complete sham, as totally lazy on my part. And it is. But the truth is, at this stage in my life, I'm probably not going to take the time to learn about aperture, f-stop, exposure , histogram, and whether or not a flash is necessary. I will, however, take a photograph with my phone and manipulate the heck out of it with the simple swipe of my finger. That I can do.

I also realize that these photographs are somewhat inauthentic, that they're manipulated to look a certain way, and thus, in a sense, lack truth. Roland Barth would have a field day with this kind of photography. But I like the images and I like the effects. And I like that when I take a picture of my kids and lighten or darken it, the image itself aligns with the emotion I feel when I look at it, and a kind of nostalgia and sentimentality spills out over the edges.
And in keeping with the theme of this blog, I've added a few photos from the Atlanta Marathon. The originals are here, if you'd like to compare.
The above photo actually wasn't anywhere on the blog before. It's a self-portrait of my hot-pink recovery socks that was too dark before I bamboozled it with the Instagram. It's still not great, but you get the idea.
When we finished the marathon in Atlanta and made our way through the food and water line, I heard the guy in front of us turn to his friend and say "Remember that hill at mile 18?" He had crossed the finish line moments before, and he was already reminiscing about the race, was already committing it to memory. It was in the past.

Photographs commemorate the past for us, allow us a glimpse into a tiny moment, allow us a visual of something we may otherwise forget. They do a lot of work for us, really, in terms of memory. Sometimes they're all we have left of a person or a place; they're flat and inanimate, but their power is vast.

The Instagram photos give images the effect of being an instant classic, of looking old even though they're new, of being darker even though they were originally light. They have an emotive quality, and much like the unreality of the oxymoron "instant classic", their unreality is part of our world now. Although the image itself is not authentic, or original, the subject itself is. And so is the baby sitting on my 96-year-old grandfather's lap, or watching the dogs walk up the street on his Mimi's front porch, or snuggling with his lovies in the early morning light. In an instant, it becomes classic, it becomes a memory.

Sometimes I rue technology and the way it seems to overwhelm our lives. But sometimes I'm grateful for its ability to capture a moment in time that I, ironically, in my iPhone induced insomnia, most likely would forget.

1 comment:

mwco said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Pioneer Woman. I really want to meet her -- want to take a road trip to Oklahoma? Or is it Nebraska? Also, love Words with Friends -- what's your id? Mine is mwoakey. Let's play!