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«No safety net here... | Front | More thoughts on photography, image worship, and a short observation that even the most sophisticated of information can be turned into a guarded moment of original magic, if only placed into the apropriate context. »

February 15, 2004
i want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everything, one on one, always, forever, now...

It was last week, I think, that my iPhoto library forgot that it was one. I still have not managed to reorganize this portion of my photographs that were in it in a way that would make sense to me or anybody else. One of the things that happened is a little issue with the date marker on all of the files. All of the photographs seem to have been taken on January 20th 2004. It is very interesting. My new (and still very incomplete) iPhoto library looks as if this particular tuesday in January were quite possibly the most eventful day of my entire life. Not only did I manage to find myself on two continents, in about a half a dozen countries (or more?), some of the people in the pictures managed to change by years in just split seconds. A friend gave birth and raised a son. Buildings went from being incomplete skeletons to fully erected and inhabited complexes, while others, rather large ones, were simply erased (thousands of lives lost). It all happened in just split seconds, or so it now appears, all on January 20th 2004. Just like that. Weightlessly. The “objective camera” meticulously recorded a reality, now compressed into minutes, where there used to be years.

On one hand it appears that thousands of photographs would probably only fit into a 24 hour day when taken by multiple photographers, wild professionals, with their cameras pointing at what was interesting, what mattered… but on the other hand, when taken as a simple mathematical exercise, if even my little Leica Minilux can shoot one single photograph per second, then I am not even touching its theoretical limit of almost 90 thousand photographs a day. (86400 if I really just kept the button pressed and never had to change the film…)
So on one hand, thousands of images look like a serious amount of material. But on the other hand, how many images do we really see during a regular day?

A two hour movie, for example, with its 24 frames per second, would contain 2880 images… Clearly they are only bearable to us because the differences between them are so miniscule that we can focus on “the big stuff”, the large changes. Our brains must be somehow bored when watching movies, compared to reality. Not only are we in a shielded environment, watching a little color rectangle flickering at a frame-rate much lower than what we usually experience, the stuff is made to make sense to us. It is usually just a relatively simple story, connected, with a relatively predictable development, often just stretched between images we had already seen a hundred times in some previews on some other flickering screen.
It is not just the number of images we look at, it is the logic between them that makes them easily or not so easily digestible. Watching a regular movie is probably not really a huge challenge. The number of images perceived is probably similar to the number of chapters that will eventually make it to the DVD (we just perceive as “moving pictures”. Movies are written by people who want to sell them to other people, so there has to be a logic which can be pitched to that person that will eventually pay for each frame.
There are, of course movies like “Memento”, which also simple, challenge the brain by mixing up the order of some DVD chapters…

How many injuries would a movie cause that were made out of 2880 completely different, individual frames? Each made to be there for a reason. At the current state of my iPhoto library I am basically looking at more than four full feature films which claim that everything in them happened at the same time, in the same location, in front of the same lens, shot by the same person. The idea of all of these things happening at the same time is a bit much to handle…
And yet as much as it would be possible to watch a 2880 frame movie with different images, because of the ability of the brain to jut shut off whatever it is not interested in, (So for most of the audience, the experience would probably just get incredibly boring after a few minutes,) it is very possible to not think of everything happening at the same time,. There is a physical distance of the images, dictated by the mere fact that each one of them has a certain presence anyway… No two images can be even in an iPhoto library in the same location at the same time…

But wait, how does it work in the world around us? Is there a movie operator somewhere that projects reality around us, just to make it palatable for us in some way? What is the frame rate at which reality happens? How many images are packed into a single second of the real real world?… Could one say that if each one of us perceived just one (moving) image per, let’s say a second… there would be still billions of images per second rushing through just the human brains here on the planet. And clearly we are not the only seeing beings… The pigeon that just rushed here by my window did so with definitely very open eyes.
Oh, and to top this all, I think only toddlers think that the world only exists when they actually look at it… (peek a boo…)
No wonder that we want to see the same thing over and over again as a child. It is no surprise that we crave to see some thing others see and travel or go to movies or watch tv?… Is it in need to simplify the things around us?
Is watching the oscars really like having a glamorous version of a collective memory about the past year of frames shown to the public?

Much of what we look at, is somehow a memory of a past experience, something that happened in a controlled and known environment… Something that was created by a person, a committee or groups of those…

Do we experience the world by comparing it to the one we already know?… Is this what makes it digestible for us?… Is the moment in which a character is introduced as important as the moment when the same character is familiar to us and blurry in the background of some real or movie scene?

How do most of us perceive Museums? Are we at any point in time really truly aware that the images that happen to share walls in a room can actually be expressions of ideas that happened years and minds and continents apart?

Are we ever truly able to see any image from the point of view of the person who created it? Are we ever able to see the image and the circumstances happening outside of the frame?
What is the difference between what we think we see and what we think we would see… and see anyway?…

I think I will go back to organizing my little image-library now… I feel as if I were the glue between the now so baked together frames.
Each image stored in the database triggers at least a little hint of a memory, and in a different way in me than in anybody else. (After all some younger version of me was the one who made the decision to push the button.) By sorting the frames, my brain will be forced to give additional value to certain images… now, from the point of view of the more current me…

Hmm… it feels as if I not only haven not answered anything… it feels as if I had not even asked the right questions…
Should I read this entry again?… maybe not… maybe I should not… let’s see how much time I can spend avoiding the present by sorting the glimpses seen by cameras I owned in the past…

(oh, and yes, the title of this little entry is a just slightly modified version of a title of a book here on my shelf…)

And what does one do with little glimpses like the one below?.


Growth, Growth , Growth. As an organic timebound growing entity you have the right to revel in your Growth, At present you are the product of all that has gone before you. You might be missing something indeed.... Your Growth.

Posted by: Wulfe on February 15, 2004 11:50 AM

why am I missing "my" growth?
are you commenting on the title, or did you read the entry?
(I have to say that I find your approach of leaving snippy comments out of the shadows of your perceived anonymity rather sad... or funny... or both...)

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 15, 2004 11:55 AM

there is a band called little wings that has a great lyric that repeats over and over again sweetly "i'm in love with everyone and everything they've ever done" which reminded me of your posts title. which was quite nice.

Posted by: marya on February 15, 2004 12:31 PM

i really like the way you wonder, Witold. I was reading this post and i started wondering about the same, i wondered if you tried it? looking at your pictures in a film kind of way? There is probably some kind of moviemaking program on the pc that will allow you to do that, i m no hero at those things...your way of wondering makes me think you would be a good philosophy of art teacher :-)
by the way, i tried the email button, but it didnt work. Is that for a reason or just because things happen the way they do?

Posted by: yanne on February 15, 2004 01:37 PM

I hereby declare January 20th as internationally recognized "Witold Ridel Captures the World Day!" Clearly you are a proficient hunter, having seized over 10,000 impressions without a single life lost (save for a few camera batteries that so heroically sacrificed their souls in the line of duty) and little to none of your nation's budget spent in the process. There is so much you could teach our world leaders in the ingenious way you've managed to grasp the entire world in the palm of your hand and encompass it's contents safely within the confines of an conventional hard drive. I look forward to the day when all wars will be fought, territories captured and new land discovered by a single click of a camera's button, or as in the "Witold" way.

Posted by: Stephan on February 15, 2004 04:51 PM

It's good that your photographic records of time are merely distorted chronologically rather than totally lost in it's maelstrom. I've recently lost half a year's worth of almost daily frames, and so must transform my reliance upon pixel into reliance upon neuron, whose accuracy is testy and takes many liberties.

Your task, of reordering a sequence you once flowed through, now in a jumble, is great as it is a meditation on time. Maybe you'll leave things as they are, like a deck of card tossed upward in abandon. Either way, enjoy the ride...

Posted by: jaybird on February 15, 2004 05:07 PM

Very reminiscent of Alan Lightman's "Einstein's Dreams," this wondering about time and experience. Yes, for the machine to believe that thousands of things were created and destroyed in one afternoon is absurdity, but for our memory, it sometimes seems like these events occurred in that split second before "now." The urgency of some memories is much like the machine's assumption that all the past was just a few days ago.

Posted by: TPB, Esq. on February 16, 2004 10:57 AM

not to be nitpicky or anything, but a 2 hour movie would contain 172,800 frames. it would be very cool to have that many photos to rummage through...

Posted by: john on February 16, 2004 02:22 PM

Darnit! Where's that "Leave as private comment" button already?

Anyway Witold...Don't let the snippy ones get a response out'ta you.

Posted by: Emily on February 16, 2004 03:06 PM

Emily, you can always email me... : )
I think the too snippy ones who hide as anonymous commentators will start to see their comments... hmm... let's see what happens...

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 03:49 PM

John!, you are absolutely right... there are more frames in a movie than seconds in a day. (How embarrassing...) : )
Funny that you are the first one to notice... : D

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 03:53 PM

TPB, Esq, thank you for the Alan Lightman's "Einstein's Dreams," reference... I will have to take a look at this book... yes, yes, exactly... the disorganized iPhoto collection feels a bit like a dream of sorts... like a memory of a library... and it is the combination of images that seemingly do not belong together that makes this experience so interesting... it is really fascinating... (your About You page is one of the best out there btw...)

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 04:23 PM

jaybird, yes, it is a very interesting situation in which there is a very odd mix of memories remembered and memories recorded... some of the photographs now appear to be timeless some will only be possible in a time frame, some are quite clearly a particular, very unique pindrop in time...
What I mean is that there are images of changing entities on one end... like images of people in places in their lives where they are clearly no more... and then on the other side of the spectrum are images of abstract events which were created in a very controlled environment in the first place...
But I guess this is also one of the fascinations I have with photography in general. As you can see in the diptych section of the catalogue, it is often interesting to find two images that are very clearly connected in some way... be it time or space or well, both... so this little accident that happened to me here, is a bit of an inspirational blessing.

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 04:31 PM

Stephan, if only cameras were the only tools allowed in conquering a new place... hmm... digital cameras...

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 05:14 PM

i'm not sure why someone would need a private comment system...
i wasn't trying to be snippy. i knew you left out a multiplier somewhere, just didn't want you to only have enough images to make a 2 minute movie :)

Posted by: john on February 16, 2004 08:02 PM

John, I think Emily probably meant the very first comment under this entry... I think your comment was not snippy in any way.
thank you so much for reading and commenting and everything.

Posted by: Witold Riedel on February 16, 2004 08:29 PM

well i have EXACLTY the same problem. A hard disk full of images but how to organize them....
begging for a good tool to put them into maps.

Posted by: ine on February 18, 2004 09:17 AM
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