Images are everywhere. Never has so much been depicted and watched, theatres of war and traffic accidents, the funny and the sad, the boring and the wonderful are all mixed up in a jumble of pixels. We have glimpses at any moment of what things look like on the other side of the planet, or the other side of the moon.
Technology touches everything we do both on and off line and digital photographs record the rules of life through a lens of obsession with catching everything. Appearances registered, and transmitted with lightning speed.
Yet with this has something innocently changed? As we move towards more photo representations of our lives will we be confident in our own memories, in our memories which are not supported by photo-evidence?
They used to be called physical appearances because they belonged to solid bodies. Now appearances are volatile. Technological innovation has made it easy to separate the apparent from the existent. And this is precisely what the present system’s mythology continually needs to exploit. It turns appearances into refractions, like mirages: refractions not of light but of appetite, in fact a single appetite, the appetite for more.
Consequently, considering the physical implications of the notion of appetite – the existent, the body, disappears. We live within a spectacle of empty clothes and unworn masks. Where there is no body there is no need, only the not-yet-real, the virtual, and the next purchase. Does this produce in the spectator a sense of freedom or is it isolation?
History has given us accounts of people who struggle with living with need. Necessity produces both tragedy and comedy but today, in the system’s spectacle, it exists no more, no experience is communicated.
The data stream of our lives is logged, placed out there where they can be seen. Seen by whom, our friends? We can control who sees our images by limiting them to certain lists, but governments and organisations can, and do, gain access to anything they want.
There is no pure memory but a reconstruction of our lives through stories, our stories, but stories that have been (or can be) edited by us and contributed to by others.
All that is left to share is the spectacle, the game that nobody plays and everyone can watch. As has never happened before, people have to try to create and place their own stories in the vast arena of time and universe.
We crave to be seen, to become micro-celebrities in front of friends and strangers alike; to share, to broadcast; to make friends; to become a known. Are we convincing ourselves that our life is so good, are we re-writing our histories? So much time is spent on capture and display have we lost the sense of the experience, or does the ubiquitous digital camera come between us and life?