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During a recent talk at Amnesty International, I freaked out the organizers a bit by suggesting that the web was not the best place to see images. They had booked me for a debate in which I was supposed to be arguing for the greatness of the digital revolution, in which we can see everything for free, all of the time.
In the last year I’ve looked at so much multimedia and taken in so much photography that I’ve completely lost a sense of perspective and awe in what I’m looking at. It’s slightly pathetic, but the critical, sometimes cynical eye I’ve developed keeps me from getting too close, too intimate with anything I look at. Before, I used to just enjoy looking at an image, a simple but wonderful pleasure — now I consume it and spit it out the other side, like a wine taster who sucked on too much vinegar.
At my Amnesty talk I spoke about getting up one morning to find a book come in the post from Joseph Rodriguez. It was a great moment. One to be treasured. Our lives touched, his work seeping into mine. I felt energized.
But right now I feel like slamming the door on multimedia, I’m worn out on its endless possibility. Exhausted.
So what can I offer this month? Two things.
One to illustrate a point and the other because when I look at it, the work it transcends all of my exhaustion and reminds me what it is to be a human, to love and to lose and also to be lost.
Phillip Toledano‘s “Days With My Father” is a masterpiece. Its a love letter that has nothing to do with any of us but that is written in such a way that it could have come from the pages of any of our lives. Its a gift and it proves that I was wrong, the web can be the best place to experience photography. The experience can be utterly transformative. No more words needed — just check it out.
I came across the the second multimedia feature I want to flag via Twitter. It’s astonishing. A panoramic image of a Nairobi street that takes the YouTube video six minutes to travel down. It comes from the book Trading Places, The Merchants of Nairobi by Steve Bloom. It held my attention for at least a minute before I got bored and moved on. Had I come across this image in a gallery, though, I would have spent a lot longer examining and re-examining it.
So maybe I was right in the first place and the web is not the best place to view images. What do you think?