Comment: We’re taking more photos than ever – but are we making memories?
What do these two vignettes tell us? I think that reveals how we became a company of visual documenters. Photography is less about remembering something and more about creating a visual archive of almost anything.
Our desire to document everything visually has something to do with our desire to remember and own an artifact that evokes that memory.
During the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, I observed how participants not only took photos and videos, but already reviewed them after the festival ended on their way back to the bus.
So instead of watching the actual event, they witnessed the event through small screens, mediated through the lens of a phone, and then relived it through that same lens. It was almost as if the photography was more important than the event itself.
There’s nothing wrong with taking lots of photos. Sometimes when I’m scrolling through my own unmanageable camera roll, I come across photos I don’t remember taking, which then remind me of things I don’t remember doing.
For example, although we like to laugh at ourselves for taking photos of food, it’s exactly those photos that conjure up memories of what we ate, friends and family we ate with, or places where we ate. This chance encounter with a lost memory is certainly a good thing.
At the same time, we create so many images, that the images themselves become ubiquitous and, to some extent, less meaningful due to their multitude. We are also lulled into a false sense of security, that the images will always be there for us to find.