In the hands of the teenagers around me, the laptop is a RM3k+ digital photo album. It’s where they store the relished moments that they have captured to be enjoyed later and in anticipation of posting ’em up for others to join in their visual orgies.
It’s not that the pictures need to be displayed so as to weed out the more desirable from the lesser ones. No, that narcissism starts much earlier. Thanks to the technology of digital photography, the selection is done instances after the photographs were taken. After every shot, the consensus will decide if the image is to what they imagined it to look like. If it does not match up to their delusions, they’re more than prepared to go through the rigmarole again, with selections from their catalogue of contemporary signs and symbols for the necessary poses, expressions and gestures till their expectations are met. It’s kinda bizarre that people actually freeze themselves in order to be captured and frozen by fractions of seconds with the shutter; to freeze for a phenomena that would freeze you anyways. Why, in Asia they’ve even devised a sign to indicate when they’re ready to be captured – they portray the number two with their fingers to announce their readiness for the camera. The degree of readiness is further indicated in direct proportion to the number of hands indicating the number two.
For a time, I actually anticipated that conversations with the young ‘uns would now be extra bitchen and exciting cos their stories would have pictures as well. But I find that what makes for dialogue and narration are just captions, and the focus of their pictures are so much of themselves that it obliterates all else around obscuring any sense of place. If there was a landmark, you couldn’t get to know much about it apart from the simple fact that they were there in front of it. If it was a picture postcard scenery you could not look further because their presence would eclipse the wonderous view around them. But you could probably have a hint at what food tastes like cos pictures of food would get a people-free image, followed by images that would indicate those people in absentia because you’d get a picture of the meal post consumption. And of course there will be the intermediate picture of them in the act of devouring the meal with one hand while the other indicates the number two.
It seems like this will be the mode of communication with them for awhile. They say that times can now no longer be forgotten but can be relived when they are all captured and recorded. Memories start early. They are setting up and pre-selecting for recollections and ruminations later. The enjoyment is not just in the now, but also set up for the later.
Everything is set up to be captured in order to be related through still life. But i’ve always felt that no one and nothing exists in the fraction of a second. Everyone and everything exists in the realm of continuous time. Why, it takes time just for the light to reach the eyes. So how much of a person is in a photograph, except for a fleeting illusion cos a captured image cannot be much more. So are they simply just setting up illusions for others to perceive? I only lament because one could not get to know a real person in that manner, and despair that when not being frozen in time, there might not be much that is real about them if everything is for that fraction of a second. Unless of course, fictional is all they want to be.