I don’t know about you, but I am tired. It seems that everything around us moves at such a pace that I often feel it’s a struggle to keep up. This was brought into focus for me recently, when I received some feedback about my blog. It wasn’t the first time I’d received it and, like all feedback should be, it was valuable. The feedbacker (made-up word) said that the blog was an enjoyable read, something else that I’m happy to say has been said to me more than one. However, they raised the question “Do you think the posts might be a little long?”
My initial reaction was to quietly roll my eyes like a petulant teenager and say to myself “Really?” After all, the social media platforms that I post the blog links to calculate the estimated reading time for a post and the blogs are rarely over 5 minutes. It got me thinking about whether we really have reached a situation where we can’t spare 5 minutes to read something, even if we don’t end up engaging with the subject. If that’s the case, why are we in such a hurry?
In attempting to answer this question, I started to think about my own use of time, the amount spent looking at my phone. Like many people who grew up without the mobile technology, I still find a certain amount of novelty in the power of these devices and generally embrace new apps when someone suggests one. When I looked at the number of apps on my phone, I was surprised to see how many of them were set up to ‘push’ information to me instead of my having to go look for it. I am literally bombarded by information all day, a consequence of which is that I spend a great deal of time glancing at the phone screen in short bursts. It isn’t really a surprise then, that the amount of attention that each piece of information gets is minimal. Try thinking about that next time you are using your phone and you will understand what I mean.
“What has this got to do with blogs or photography?”, I hear you ask. Well, I’ve found in recent months that aspects of everyday life that we take for granted, either through cultural evolution or apathy, inspire me to make photographic series about them. For this year’s module on the degree course, I have to create a piece of work in a structured fashion, refining it as the idea develops. Communication, its evolution through technology and the affect it has on our perception of the real world, is the central theme for my series. We rush from one source of information to another without being aware of it, which leaves us frequently oblivious to the 'real' world around us. The many questions that relate to my original thoughts about ‘5 minutes to read a blog post’ could take my series in a variety of directions about isolation, social etiquette, mental stress, relationships etc, which I’m looking forward to exploring. I’ve already started to experiment with the way we are directed and controlled by signs and how we both include and reject their messages from our lives.
I took this photograph during a recent visit to a friend on the South coast. The scene lent itself neatly to what I was thinking about how we are wrapped up inside our little digital bubbles (I’d be interested in your thoughts if you’d like to share them) and almost need to have ‘the rules’ spelled out to us. I loved the fact that the man is sitting on one of the signs. Personally, I am trying to spend less time there, deleting all the apps that I don’t really need and limiting myself when looking at my phone. Getting out there and taking photographs is one method I’m using, just for the sheer joy of the experience. It doesn’t have to be a major art project, just a way of spending more time paying attention to the world. It’s difficult though, as I guess that the need to be informed is a kind of addiction in the modern world. I’ll let you know how I get on, if you can spare me 5 minutes.
Interested in taking up photography? Drop me a line for details about beginners’ tutition at [email protected].