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31 Dec 2010

Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen.  Many things weren’t supposed to happen the way they did this year for me, and I’d thought that I had effectively ended my year, a few days early, on a clear and hopeful note: load my cameras with Ektar and begin to see anew.  And then that happened: possibly the best photograph I took all year happened in a moment of pure happenstance last night, with my very un-film-loaded iPhone, and — here’s the kicker — using a fake Polaroid app.  And now it’s 14 hours before the new year, and my clarity has completely unraveled once more.

I’ve been working on a longish essay on my issues with iPhone apps like ShakeItPhoto (which I used in the photo above) and Hipstamatic, and though I’m hoping to post it here in the next few weeks, my position is basically this: in making everything aesthetically pleasing, the apps water down what it means to see photographically, to truly capture moments of grace.  The apps render otherwise unremarkable photographs beautiful, and that just sort of pisses me off.  Even if I sometimes use the apps too.

Last night on the subway home, I was standing next to a seated man with a green-gilded book in his lap.  I almost never use my iphone camera for anything other than quick food snaps when it’s too dark to use my film cameras, and I certainly never take photos of random people on the subway, but there I was, trying to surreptitiously take a photograph of him sitting there right in front of me, quietly reading.  And here it is.  And I can’t tell if I think it’s awesome because it is awesome, or if it’s awesome only because an app has rendered it so.   I don’t think a film camera (other than possibly an actual Polaroid) could have captured this as well as the iPhone did — and, more to the point, I don’t think I would’ve even attempted to take this with a film camera, unwieldy manual lens be damned.   And now I find myself reveling in the pleasures of an image whose technological provenance I’ve spent the better part of the last six months quietly raging against.

That’s all I’ve got for you.  Like 2010, I can’t seem to end on a particularly edifying note.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 Jan 2011 12:43 am

    Fabulous picture Hung-An! Would love to know the back story to this one..

  2. 3 Jan 2011 6:11 am

    Thanks so much! your most recent post is very interesting. I even got excited when I first saw the picture without reading. I also don’t know what to think.

  3. Daisy permalink
    8 Jan 2011 6:37 pm

    The image itself congers up all sorts of meanings and stories in my head. The fact that such technology made it come into existence in the first place, is even more thought provoking. You have a most intriguing eye my friend. Your photos are delicious, even when they are not of food.

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