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July 14th, 2020
As the technology behind photos and film continues to advance in such a way that it becomes more and more seamless with the moment, one wonders whether the need to 'compose' false moments will disappear. When photography as a technology first came into being, people were required to stand very still for a length of time in order for the exposure to work. The limits of the technology required a particular behavior, and that behavior has persisted. For the most part, we are still saying 'cheese' in order to flag the exact moment when everyone needs to smile without blinking.
But imagine for a moment if everything around you, in a kind of 360 degree aura was being visually recorded and an algorithm was monitoring all the angles and compositions and automatically selected moments that spontaneously looks good as photos, compiling those at the end of the day and creating the quintessential photo album of your life? Would we still feel the impulse to compose photos if this were the case?
Probably, either because the behavior is fairly entrenched at this point, or rather because we compose photos not because we are trying to have a likeness of our moment, but because we seek to represent an ideal moment that isn't actually occuring.
We live in our head more than we do in the moment. We chase ideas, dreams and peak states that are perpetually poised in the future, like the proverbial carrot dangling before the donkey. As a result we miss the moment, and ironically, when we do find ourselves wholly present, the experience is often so nice that to interrupt it with the taking of a picture would only lessen our sense of what it's like to be alive in that moment.
We exist in false moments framed by ideals at the expense of the actual moment. Oddly, the thing we are trying to get at is always here with us. The problem is not that we lack something that might exist in the future, it's that our attention lacks a certain flexibility, construction and focus to connect tangential desire with the satisfaction that is always available in the present.