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i’m very popular with the kids, apparently.

10 Dec 2010

No, seriously.  There’s a whole universe of teenagers with Tumblr accounts, and they really dig these particular photographs.

Look, I’m not so old or out of touch that I don’t know how Tumblr works, or that I don’t find the platform totally compelling; this blog initially started on tumblr, in fact.  (And by the way, you all should check out my dear friend Mike’s tumblr blog too.)  Tumblr makes it easy to reblog things you find on the web, be it photographs, links, and so on.  And with its emphasis on curating with minimal commentary, Tumblr sites have the appearance of an ongoing, everchanging snapshot of oneself — like a Moleskine notebook into which you jot down a few ideas, paste in a hastily torn-out photo from a magazine, and then show to the rest of the world.  It’s a self reflected in (or perhaps refracted by) the links one calls attention to.

Including, to return to my original point, my photographs. I mean, god knows I love that photo of Shannon putting ketchup onto her cheesy homefries; I had no idea that such an image would resonate so strongly with something like 500+ teenaged Tumblr’ers.   (And yes, based on their quick ‘about me’ descriptions, the bulk of these folks reblogging my photos are a good two decades my junior.)  And it’s amusing to discover that photograph wedged inbetween a dimly lit photo of 16 year olds who look like they just stepped out of the fall edition of the Anthropologie catalogue, and a gif of Emma Watson giggling during her appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

I don’t mean to discount or speak ill of the kids, though.  They’re actually keeping alive, in their own way, the dwindling universe of film photography.  Via certain Flickr pools, like Film-Grain and other film-oriented groups, the Tumblr kids are finding a whole world of photos with which to curate their tumblr pages.  The aesthetic is often quite similar: neutral, muted tones, usually overcast days.  If it’s not overcast, it’s at least late in the day, with the sun hanging low in the sky, casting long shadows.  If there’s someone in the pic, they’re most likely facing away from the camera, or in profile, with their hair blowing across their face.  If aforementioned sun is out, it’s behind the figure in question, backlighting her (usually a lass, with long, flowing dark chestnut tresses).  And there’s tall grass.  There’s always tall grass.  Lately I’ve been seeing more shots of fully clothed people (sans heads; usually from the neck or thighs down) lounging on top of an unmade bed; this appears to be a new favorite aesthetic trope (sub-trope?).

As a whole, some of these tumblr pages are like stills from a newbie’s homage to Tarkovsky, Bertolucci, mid-career Sokurov, a little bit of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, a lot of Tsai Ming-liang and Godard’s 1960s color films, some Malick (remember the tall grass), and a touch of Wong Kar-Wai for good measure (the kids really like wallpapered rooms, a la In the Mood for Love or 2046).  And then, hilariously, in this fray you’ve got a picture of a hamburger, courtesy of yours truly.  Hey, even the angst-ridden have to eat, right?

But in all honesty, I’m sometimes mesmerized by these pages, by the idea that there’s a whole universe of kids honing their aesthetic sensibility through this kind of curating and sharing.  And, that if these pages are any indication, not every teenager is into that Twilight business.  (Ok, romanticizing Alain Delon or Jean-Pierre Leaud has its own downsides, but still, I’d choose them over Robert Pattinson any day.)  Here are a few that you ought to check out:

a touch of blue.
Paris in dreams
Wir sind die Nacht

i scribbled out the truth

One Comment leave one →
  1. 10 Dec 2010 6:08 pm

    haha i hear you on this. i think tumblr is just too fast-paced for me to keep up with.

    i’m off to check out the links you shared!

    of course, i love the ketchup pouring picture too.

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