We live in a world where digital transmissions of images and ideas are only eclipsed in quickness by the changing of the very technology itself and its effects on our society. We seem momentarily remiss of a cumulative history while we capture with a digital ferocity every current changing element of our own very-now life. Thousands of digital photographs live and breathe on our tiny hand-held cameras. Thousands. And thousands which will never see the form as “printed photograph” in which to record history. It is all a digital blur which will change the next time we “load our cameras”.
The quickness of a ten year old’s hand and mind as he moves the mouse to edit a photo that he took of a tree against the sky from his own backyard is the subject. The photo, in origin, having the tree a bit out of focus, transforms itself from an “okay” photograph taken by a child to an exposition of technical facility by this very same child who downloads it and edits it and crops it and saves it to his file. This action changes everything.
All of a sudden the idea of a “good photo” precedes documentation of both tree and sky, trial and error, and the focus shifts to the child’s ability to use the computer skills he has mysteriously acquired in order to “technically adjust” his photo. The photo then begins to talk about the incredible facility this ten year old has already assumed in his role as “photographer”, as seer, as observer, as “maker of images” , and most amazingly, as technician: a child responding to the availability of a digital world before him.
The actual (original) photo of the sky, or the tree, may never see the light of day again, but that’s okay. The art is not in the printed photo, but in the observation of, and extension of this newfound facility.
In looking at a child’s activity of photographing a tree against the sky — what is the significance of [our] attempts to capture something with our cameras and then somehow [given technology] be able to then ‘fix it’ later ? The photo as documentation of the actual world becomes secondary to the activity of manipulating it to a preconceived liking.
Where does this process of alteration come from, and where does the actual tree fall in all of this, and why, in the end, [upon reflection of both the ‘tangible’ digital picture and method of technical facility ] did we stop to take a photo of [a] tree to begin with? Do we applaud the visual given us (in the form of a photo of a tree against a sky) or do we applaud the facility which got us there? What is it that we are actually taking a picture of ?