Thursday, October 23, 2014

Baby Face (365 Photos)

7:43 PM

Share it Please

You will never find a home without it. 

Usually it would be on a shelf or atop a drawer, amongst other images of those you know as “family”. Your brothers or sisters flanking both sides--that is, assuming you do have siblings. How about a picture of the entire brood? The ever-present studio shot: generic single-colour background, stiffly-posed, commercial smiles, (with the exception of that one peevish child who simply could NOT refrain from expressing his/her displeasure), stark lighting from a very strong flash designed to clear shadows and blur any trace of cosmetic imperfections. Naturally if you are the unica hijo/hija, it is generally acknowledged that, by divine right, your gorgeous face must fill the space. 

Baby pictures: whatever would we do without them?

Knowing that most of these were taken back in an age of cassette tapes and film cameras, it seems fairly odd that our parents have managed to amass an entire childhood’s worth of images as well as a number of firsts. First steps? Check. First trip to the amusement park? Sure. What of that time you or I, for that matter, decided to shed those adorable baby tears because you could not find your favourite toy? Absolutely. A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. Although these memories are about as clear-cut in our minds as the first time we saw light after “bursting forth from your mother’s womb,” they make for rather interesting (if for the most part embarrassing) anecdotes to tell over those dreaded family reunions. 

Seeming trivialities are perpetually frozen in time: limited snippets of a time long past, though for the most part inaccessible in your own mind, are made tangible and preserved. The recall, however, is not your choice or mine, but somebody else’s. Chances are these are the same people who were behind the lens. The irony is that what we would eventually come to acknowledge as parts of a self-identity are in fact memories that have already been pre-selected by figures other than us. The result: a carefully curated collection of flashbacks brought about by a controlled amount of shots. Yet these are memories, still. We can revisit these moments again and again, though we would probably remember them differently each time. Details supplemented and omitted are part of the charm. 

Fast-forwarding into the present, the internet and technology are at the forefront. With the cheaper, more efficient modes of image production — not to mention higher memory storage — the spread of the #selfie movement almost seems to have developed organically. There is a deity-like power in the knowledge that a) there is nearly an unlimited amount of photos, self-portrait or otherwise, ready to be taken at any given moment and b) said photos (should these be unflattering or not) can be deleted at the click of a button. Really, it is only too easy. For the particularly trigger happy ones, the idea is practically intoxicating. 

Whereas once, our reason clouded by infancy, made us unable to select or at the very least protest those periods of our life which are worthy of being catalogued, the newfound sense of autonomy in documentation (as enabled by today’s innovations) have certainly pushed the belt. Yet the repercussions of this are only too difficult to ignore. The knowledge that the storing, capturing, and sharing of an image is now virtually boundless has led to a senseless accumulation of occurrences in our lives. Yes, there is no longer the inability to make a decision but neither is there enough exercise of conscientious selection. Case in point: we all have that one Facebook friend who appears to be incredibly fond of their features and is capable of producing an album of 180 photos or more of their “morning face” with 360-degree angle coverage for optimum effect. 

The proverbial photograph-littered desk or shelf is not gone; it has simply expanded using social media as its platform. Filling it is quite simply a bunch of stuff: holidays, vacations, house visits, parties, school/work-related events, pet pictures, new purchases, but most prominently (and unsettling) among these are faces, faces, facesnumerous shots of human features in a myriad of contortions and expressions imaginable.  

What happens then is that there is preservation without the memory, documentation without the meaning. Hardly even knowing it, we have succeeded at fostering a culture of MORE; but in this pursuit, have also managed to compromise the significance of restraint. The image is no longer quite worth more than just the picture, the image becomes the picture. 

The selfie is not without its merits. There is bound to be something captivating in a self-portrait: the tales it can tell about the subject, and perhaps in the vein of intrigue, the stories it won’t. Execution, as with most things, is key. Several articles such as this one on 500px ISO offer a bunch of wildly creative ideas in taking the perfect shot. After all, if cameras were invented for the purpose of capturing life as it happens, shouldn’t we at least owe it to ourselves to make sure that those moments are not (and we are talking about substance here) dead

We don't all have to shoot at the level of pro-photographers, but allow this to be something to consider the next time you whip out that camera and feel it alarmingly necessary to take that photo. 

Article by Blessilde
Art by Reese
Blessilde's existence is a hole waiting to be ripped out from the very fabric of the universe. Her sense of being is anachronistic: she is simply there and not quite there. This timeline crisis is the result of a lifetime’s fascination with period films and science fiction, a deeply-rooted affinity for the fantastical and reckless infatuation with characters that do not exist (oh the blasphemy!). She is mother to two, ridiculously fussy cats, and she believes in sea monsters.

Reese  is many things she cannot compromise. She is a visual artist, graphic designer, musician, and fashion student; all rolled into one convenient sushi. is her virtual cave filled with art experiments, songwriting attempts, twenty-something thingamabobs, and a collection of life's flotsam and jetsam.