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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Umberto Eco "An epidemic of electronic eye"
Old 12-11-2012   #1
micromontenegro
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Umberto Eco "An epidemic of electronic eye"

Maybe you'll find this article interesting, as I did:

Some time ago, I was giving a talk at the Spanish Academy in Rome — or, rather, trying to give a talk. I found myself distracted by a bright light shining in my eyes that made it difficult to read my notes — the light from a cellphone video camera that belonged to a woman in the audience. I reacted in a very resentful manner, remarking (as I usually do in the face of inconsiderate photographers) that, in keeping with the proper division of labour, when I am working they should stop working. The woman turned her camera off, but with an oppressed air about her, as though she had been subjected to a true outrage.

Just this summer in San Leo, as the Italian city was launching a wonderful initiative to honour the Montefeltro-area landscape that appears in Piero della Francesca’s early Renaissance paintings, three people were blinding me with their flashes, and I stopped to remind them of the rules of good manners. It should be noted that, at both of these events, the people who were recording me didn’t belong to professional camera crews and hadn’t been sent to cover the event; they were presumably educated people who came of their own free will to attend lectures that required some degree of knowledge. Nevertheless, they displayed all the symptoms of “electronic eye syndrome”: They appeared to have virtually no interest in what was being said; all they wanted, it seemed, was to record the event and perhaps post it on YouTube. They had given up on paying attention in the moment, choosing to record on their cellphones instead of watching with their own eyes.

This desire to be present with a mechanical eye instead of a brain seems to have mentally altered a significant contingent of otherwise civil people. The audience members snapping pictures and shooting video in Rome and San Leo probably left the events with a few images, but with no idea of what they had witnessed. (Such behaviour is, perhaps, justified when seeing a stripper — but not an academic talk.) And if, as I imagine, these individuals go through life photographing everything they see, they are forever condemned to forget today what they recorded yesterday.

On several occasions I’ve spoken of how I stopped taking photographs in 1960, after a tour of French cathedrals that I had photographed like a mad man. Upon returning home from the trip, I found myself in possession of a series of very mediocre photographs — and no real memories of what I had seen. I threw away the camera, and during my subsequent travels, I have only recorded what I saw in my mind. I have bought excellent postcards, more for others than for myself, for future remembrance.

Once, when I was 11 years old, I came upon an unusual commotion on a main thoroughfare. From a distance, I saw the aftermath of an accident: A truck had hit a cart that a farmer was driving, with his wife riding alongside him. The woman had been thrown to the ground. Her head had cracked open and she was lying in a pool of blood and brain matter. (I still recall with horror that, in that moment, it looked to me as if a strawberry cream cake had been spattered on the ground.) The woman’s husband held her tight, wailing in desperation. I didn’t get too close, for I was terrified: Not only was it the first time I had seen a brain spattered on the ground (and fortunately, it was also the last time) but it was the first time I had been in the presence of death. And sorrow, and desperation.

What would have happened if I had had a cellphone equipped with a video camera, just as every kid has today? Perhaps I would have recorded the scene, to show my friends that I had been there. And perhaps I would have posted my visual treasure on YouTube, to delight other devotees of schadenfreude. After that, who knows? If I had continued to record such misfortunes, I might have become utterly indifferent to the suffering of others.

Instead, I preserved everything in my memory. Seventy years later, the mental image of that woman continues to haunt me and, indeed, has taught me to empathise with others’ suffering rather than being indifferent to it. I don’t know if today’s youth will have the same opportunities I did to mature into adulthood — to say nothing of all the adults who, with their eyeballs glued to their cellphones, have already been lost forever.
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Old 12-11-2012   #2
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Not very profound or insightful, more like a typical rant against technology.
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Old 12-11-2012   #3
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Thanks for posting this, very interesting article. I had a similar impression during my last trip to Greece. This is how usually would most tourists behave and miss what is the most important when visiting ancient sites , looking at masterpiece of architecture or joining street band walking and singing down the street , they are looking through the cell phones camera instead of just trying be there , feel the place .
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Old 12-11-2012   #4
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I certainly understand what you're saying - and - it is so true. There used to be an old joke:
"how was your vacation?"
"I don't know, I haven't gotten my pictures back yet!"
And, I heard that one back in the 50's. Nothing new - just more now due to increased technology.
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Old 12-11-2012   #5
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When people don't follow the etiquette the fault is not with the mechanical devices they use, the fault is with the people.

I once attended a photography lecture and a young man took non-stop photos of the speaker with a DSLR and the constant sound simply made everyone angry.

People are the problem, as always, not the technology.
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Old 12-11-2012   #6
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The last time I was in the Louvre, I saw a continuous stream of people run up to the Venus de Milo wthout even a glsnce at the statue itself, turn and pose for a picture in front of that embodiment of beauty, then run to the next "big thing." Last May, I was walking across the Pont St. Michel, and a tiny, middle-aged lady just in front of me was running toward the Isle de la Cite, holding her digicam aloft snapping away in the general direction of Notre Dame de Paris, but never even glancing in that direction. I agree with Eco. It's getting more than a little nuts out there.
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Old 12-11-2012   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exdsc View Post
Not very profound or insightful, more like a typical rant against technology.
I agree with the essay but I also sense a rant. I don't think Umberto Eco understands the people in the first two paragraphs.
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Old 12-11-2012   #8
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Thanks for posting the link to this article. Eco makes important observations about the virtualization of life. This is not just an anti-technology rant, he is addressing they ways in which we are being dehumanized, by technology that is qualitatively different from anything seen before.

Perhaps "dehumanize" is not quite the right word, as the impulse to remove ourselves from the physical world, and interaction with our fellow humans, is clearly one of our innate potentials. However, until the last few decades, nothing existed that is a good analogy to modern electronics and its capacity to construct a world that is completely artificial.

I am not excusing myself - the film camera also allows you to insulate yourself from the world, although I suspect it requires a higher level of engagement.

Of course, Eco would have probably been less p-ssed off if the photographers didn't use flash. ;-)

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Old 12-11-2012   #9
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Originally Posted by igi View Post
I agree with the essay but I also sense a rant. I don't think Umberto Eco understands the people in the first two paragraphs.
One could speculate that the anger that Umberto Eco feels could also stem from the fact that he feels people are more interested in his picture as a celebrity writer and intellectual rather than what he has to say.

We live in an era of mass empowerment when it comes to visual media. People are empowered at all levels to take their own photos and video, and share it with others. Thus far I see nothing wrong with this but the potential is there that the whole idea of a good photo will eventually disappear due to a lack of hierarchy in skill level, artistic expression as well as the sheer volume of photos created everyday.
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Old 12-11-2012   #10
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Regarding the "rantyness" of the article: It took me a good while finding an English translation. This one is very good, but the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm of the first two paragraphs was totally lost in translation. And maybe replaced by some bitterness that is not there in the original text.
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Old 12-11-2012   #11
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remindes me of a quote from the novel Extinction by Thomas Bernhard, which i like a lot. (please note, that it's from a novel, not an essay). a main character states there:

"I despise people who are forever taking pictures and go around with cameras hanging from their necks, always on the lookout for a subject, snapping anything and everything, however silly. All the time they have nothing in their heads but portraying themselves, in the most distasteful manner, though they are quite oblivious of this.
What they capture in their photos is a perversely distorted world that has nothing to do with the real world except this perverse distortion, for which they themselves are responsible. Photography is a vulgar addiction that is gradually taking hold of the whole of humanity, which is not only enamored of such distortion and perversion but completely sold on them, and will in due course, given the proliferation of photography, take the distorted and perverted world of the photograph to be the only real one.
Practitioners of photography are guilty of one of the worst crimes it is possible to commit--of turning nature into a grotesque.

The people in their photographs are nothing but pathetic dolls, disfigured beyond recognition, staring in alarm into the pitiless lens, brainless and repellent. Photography is a base passion that has taken hold of every continent and every section of the population, a sickness that afflicts the whole of humanity and is no longer curable. The inventor of the photographic art was the inventor of the most inhumane of all arts. To him we owe the ultimate distortion of nature and the human beings who form part of it, the reduction of human beings to perverse caricatures--his and theirs. I have yet to see a photograph that shows a normal person, a true and genuine person, just as I have yet to see one that gives a true and genuine representation of nature."
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Old 12-11-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micromontenegro View Post
Regarding the "rantyness" of the article: It took me a good while finding an English translation. This one is very good, but the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm of the first two paragraphs was totally lost in translation. And maybe replaced by some bitterness that is not there in the original text.
Usually it's is common practice to provide a link to the original article, i.e. provide the proper source.

Nevertheless and interesting read and of course, he is true in his observation.
A rough guess: If you take the camera or cell phone away from people and ask them what the have seen that day, maybe 90% would have a hard time to describe it without whatever their little electronic gadget is.
If taking pictures/video gets intrusive (flash, artificial light) people shouldn't forget their manners, if they do, they need to be told.
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Old 12-11-2012   #13
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I find this very interesting and have often wondered myself what motivates so many people to record certain situations so fervently. I agree the preoccupation of being on the other end of a lens does remove from reality by some degree.


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Old 12-11-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micromontenegro View Post

This desire to be present with a mechanical eye instead of a brain seems to have mentally altered a significant contingent of otherwise civil people. The audience members snapping pictures and shooting video in Rome and San Leo probably left the events with a few images, but with no idea of what they had witnessed. (Such behaviour is, perhaps, justified when seeing a stripper — but not an academic talk.) And if, as I imagine, these individuals go through life photographing everything they see, they are forever condemned to forget today what they recorded yesterday.
I felt this and can agree. I guess I'm not the only one to get very engaged shooting and then the memory isn't quite as strong.
This has happened me in a very strong way when I shot some fireworks on town. After it finished, I couldn't recall them. Didn't get the emotion of the fireworks.
And on others, where I shot so much as of pure indulgence. I am a low volume shooter, and 300 photos of a dinner celebration just choke me.

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Nevertheless and interesting read and of course, he is true in his observation.
A rough guess: If you take the camera or cell phone away from people and ask them what the have seen that day, maybe 90% would have a hard time to describe it without whatever their little electronic gadget is.
I could relate it to learning.

I am 18 but didn't get to use cellphones in a daily basis until last september. (Unbelievable, but yes) I did have a cellphone, but never carried it or used it.
Nowadays, it is a complementary tool. I use it as a recording & communication device.
But I am used to be without it (progressively needing it more, however...).

I guess many people my age who have used cellphones since a much earlier age have another approach, ie. more dependence in the tool.

I must say that I'm a "recording freak". I love to record stuff that happens. But usually, I avoid having that feeling of shooting and after that feeling like I wasn't there; because, frankly, it doesn't feel nice.
Infact, I've even got a reputation among my classmates of being a "journalist", because I photograph stuff that happens with my cellphone camera. But I've been much of a feeler lately.

I guess it's a society attitude, too. In my daily life, commuting, there isn't much happiness seen.
I do get to enjoy these irrelevant daily happenings. The sunrise while commuting, the architecture of my train station, the machinery itself, the urban ambiance.
Sometimes I even get to dislike going with classmates back to the train because I can't concentrate on the environment, and don't have the freedom to drift away...
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Old 12-11-2012   #15
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I stopped shooting photos on vacation many years ago. Besides annoying my wife with constant photography, I realized early on that I never looked at the photos (primarily slides in those days) I had shot.
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Old 12-11-2012   #16
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I will admit that in my personal life, I have sometimes wondered if I'm missing too much of the present by tasking myself with the job of family chronicler.

Like "missing" a child's birthday in the effort of capturing it photographically. However, when I flip through the books of pictures of my family and growing children I feel a direct connection with the moment that's often stronger than many of my everyday memories, with the exception of memories of particular importance.

Migrating to rangefinders, was not only a way to shed the weight of other camera gear, but also a step on a different photographic path where two or three pictures serve to capture the essence of an event. This more measured approach allows me to be more directly involved in the moment, but also capture images for later enjoyment.
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Old 12-11-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
Thanks for posting the link to this article. Eco makes important observations about the virtualization of life. This is not just an anti-technology rant, he is addressing they ways in which we are being dehumanized, by technology that is qualitatively different from anything seen before.

Perhaps "dehumanize" is not quite the right word, as the impulse to remove ourselves from the physical world, and interaction with our fellow humans, is clearly one of our innate potentials. However, until the last few decades, nothing existed that is a good analogy to modern electronics and its capacity to construct a world that is completely artificial.

I am not excusing myself - the film camera also allows you to insulate yourself from the world, although I suspect it requires a higher level of engagement.

Of course, Eco would have probably been less p-ssed off if the photographers didn't use flash. ;-)

Randy
Dear Randy,

That's what I get from it too: hardly an anti-technology rant.

On the other hand, for me, Eco is over-generalizing from his own world-picture. I had very little visual memory until I took up photography in my 'teens. Now my visual memory is quite good. Some people refuse to believe that photography changed my visual memory, but then again, they're often the sort of people who refuse to believe that there are people who don't enjoy dancing. "You must have lost yourself in the rhythm sometimes," they say. NO I BLOODY HAVEN'T. They're trapped in their own perception, unable to make allowance for others who don't think EXACTLY the way they do.

Cheers,

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Old 12-11-2012   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icebear View Post
If taking pictures/video gets intrusive (flash, artificial light) people shouldn't forget their manners, if they do, they need to be told.
Amen. That's the best lesson from this. If only he hadn't climbed atop the pulpit afterward to denounce the multitudes for worshipping their graven-image devices instead of throwing them away, like him.
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Old 12-11-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
...Eco makes important observations about the virtualization of life. This is not just an anti-technology rant, he is addressing they ways in which we are being dehumanized, by technology that is qualitatively different from anything seen before.

Perhaps "dehumanize" is not quite the right word, as the impulse to remove ourselves from the physical world, and interaction with our fellow humans, is clearly one of our innate potentials. However, until the last few decades, nothing existed that is a good analogy to modern electronics and its capacity to construct a world that is completely artificial...

Randy
Interesting comment, Randy. Thanks for posting it.

This reminds me of a recent article by wedding photographer Brendan Esposito (worth a look for the photos alone). He remarks how it is becoming very difficult to take wedding photos now because the guests are more preoccupied with recording the event than participating. In doing so they diminish the human dimension of the wedding.

I notice that for many teenagers, performing to cell phones and publishing the resulting photos and videos on Facebook has become the only way of validating life itself. McLuhan was right - the medium is the message.
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Old 12-11-2012   #20
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Interesting comment, Randy. Thanks for posting it.

This reminds me of a recent article by wedding photographer Brendan Esposito (worth a look for the photos alone). He remarks how it is becoming very difficult to take wedding photos now because the guests are more preoccupied with recording the event than participating. In doing so they diminish the human dimension of the wedding.

I notice that for many teenagers, performing to cell phones and publishing the resulting photos and videos on Facebook has become the only way of validating life itself. McLuhan was right - the medium is the message.
But for how long...? I understand the assertion as an equation and therefore I dare to question it. I would say that nowadays the medium has become much more important than the message itself, as the medium stays (at least a bit longer) and the message fades away with a flick of a mouse click.

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Old 12-11-2012   #21
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Sure it is a rant, but it isn't a rant against technology. The rant is against separating yourself from the world by use of the technology.

I like to photograph airshows. I found I'm worrying about missing a good shot, and I'm missing the show. No big deal with the modern aircraft, but the shows I go to have a lot of historically important planes. When, if ever, will see them again? The camera doesn't record the sound of radial motors. The camera doesn't record the feel of the sun on my face as I look up at the planes. I miss the conversation with the guy standing next to me when the camera is at my eye.
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Old 12-11-2012   #22
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I see no anti- tech rant here. Some forgettable generalizations regarding the behaviour of "educated" people and the young seems to be the bulk of the passage.
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Old 12-11-2012   #23
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Sure it is a rant, but it isn't a rant against technology. The rant is against separating yourself from the world by use of the technology.

I like to photograph airshows. I found I'm worrying about missing a good shot, and I'm missing the show. No big deal with the modern aircraft, but the shows I go to have a lot of historically important planes. When, if ever, will see them again? The camera doesn't record the sound of radial motors. The camera doesn't record the feel of the sun on my face as I look up at the planes. I miss the conversation with the guy standing next to me when the camera is at my eye.

This a sore point for me. I have a son (adult) who spends his time alternating between his X-Box (killing aliens, gangsters etc) internet, television, and android phone. Little does he suspect there's a real world out there somewhere!

Surely there has to be a point somewhere where a backlash against this lack of real communication/involvement will occur.
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Old 12-11-2012   #24
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A little florid but he makes a valid point.
The Sistine Chapel is an extraordinary place with a palpable effect on those who enter it. I have only exerienced the same collective hush when approaching the huge rock formation known as The Olgas in central Australia. In both places I saw people's shoulders relax, their cameras, most of them, held loosely in the hand, forgotten and irrelevant.
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Old 12-12-2012   #25
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I think those taking images of events they are attending with mobile phones are collecting social currency. They post the images onto other social networking websites with the intention of gaining peer recognition and increasing their social standing within their chosen group.

Surely as photographers we all do it to varying degrees...
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Old 12-12-2012   #26
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They are collecting moments. Ten thousand moments occupies so little space these days and costs nothing.
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Old 12-12-2012   #27
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Old 12-12-2012   #28
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Lots of miscellaneous thoughts about this article. Many generalizations, some valid points, some stupid ones (Eco might have thrown his camera away rather after having realized that his own photos weren't good than just for looking at the real world differently and deeply).

Cell phones are today's common photo tools, but if you look at some photos of artistic or intellectual shows which happened during the 1950's and 1960's, you'll see a large crowd of TLR's and LF cameras with large flashguns heads over them - this wasn't less annoying than this armada of cellphones flashes.

People gathering around the main "big things" in museums to tremendously take photos or having themselves shot next to the masterpieces isn't a new phenomenon, it has nothing to do with cellphones or technology.

And I rather prefer to see people rushing into museums than not doing it.

There would be many things to write about this article, which mixes many concepts (education, photography, modernity, technology, how to perceive the world and the human beings), into a kind of strange and finally rather unpleasant soap, but what can be said is that this is quite expected to read this under Eco's signature. This is following his usual mental line of elites versus masses dichotomy.

Some other great arts and history specialists his age, like Paul Veyne, don't have the same problems with modernity and technology, and the use of modern communication tools.

And there is that very trendy thought about other people being unable to emphatize with others' suffering while he, Eco, can do it because he decided to stop taking pictures long ago. Stupid.

Robert Doisneau once related a similar accident episode and how he reacted to it as a confirmed and already famous photographer - this was much more sensitive and subtile than this cliché.
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Old 12-12-2012   #29
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The underlying enabler of all of this photo excess is social networking. Once that fades, so will the interest of the masses in cell phone photography. One thing I've learned in 62 years of living is that all human enterprise has a foundation of sand.
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Old 12-12-2012   #30
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Absolutely.

I'll just add that, IMO, had Eco lived in the XVIIIth century, he would very likely have written the same kind of article in some printed elites-targeted gazette of that time, complaining about mass people attending his conferences while being drunk, speaking loud, stinking, being dirty, or even getting into the conference room with animals, prostitutes, and the like.

If you think of how people are said to have behaved while Mozart's operas were first being played in popular Czech and Austrian theaters...
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Old 12-12-2012   #31
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Absolutely.

I'll just add that, IMO, had Eco lived in the XVIIIth century, he would very likely have written the same kind of article in some printed elites-targeted gazette of that time, complaining about mass people attending his conferences while being drunk, speaking loud, stinking, being dirty, or even getting into the conference room with animals, prostitutes, and the like.

If you think of how people are said to have behaved while Mozart's operas were first being played in popular Czech and Austrian theaters...
Yeah well Mozart was more a pop/rock star and opera stages were pop/rock music stages and not the things we consider them to be today, the audience didn't really behave that much different than people of today behave at Rock concerts. Furthermore If people would have misbehaved at an academy/university in the 18th century they would have faced severe consequences being dismissed from the University would have been the least of their worries.

I don't read his rant as anti technological but more about the antisocial behavior or disconnection of people and not just of today. His thesis is supported by the fact that many photographers say that the viewfinder helps them disconnect from events and that it acts as a shield against the outside the viewfinder world.
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Old 12-12-2012   #32
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I was at the local punk flea market last weekend (fellow RFFer Jim Shulman also showed up). There is a class of young people who are less wrapped up in the virtualized world, who gravitate to the material world. They like books, bikes, vinyl and old electronics. They give me some hope for the future. I am sure they all have cell phones (why not, given that they are dirt cheap) but i saw them all busy talking to friends or browsing, I didn't see anyone glued to a screen.

They also like film, by the way, even if by the lomo route.

My generation should embrace these kids, but I sense that is not the case. They look like bums (and some live that way), many are not interested in college. In my view, they recognize the ugly trap that modern life has evolved into, and they are consciously or unconsciously seeking an alternative.

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Old 12-12-2012   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Absolutely.

I'll just add that, IMO, had Eco lived in the XVIIIth century, he would very likely have written the same kind of article in some printed elites-targeted gazette of that time, complaining about mass people attending his conferences while being drunk, speaking loud, stinking, being dirty, or even getting into the conference room with animals, prostitutes, and the like.

If you think of how people are said to have behaved while Mozart's operas were first being played in popular Czech and Austrian theaters...
Prostitutes and animals? How can I get invited to that party?!
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Old 12-12-2012   #34
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I don't read his rant as anti technological but more about the antisocial behavior or disconnection of people and not just of today.
Yes.

But we can object to Eco that there were some times in the past during which people had a very social behaviour as well as a very strong connection to what they were living ; and this often leaded to actual cataclysms with a lot of violence and horror.

If one has received some solid educational basis and a good sense of the fundamental values in life, by no means can the use of the cell phone or the Internet just blow all of that away.

I now read that article as something disconnected as well. Eco knows for sure that he's famous enough through his books, radio broadcasts, universities conferences, all of them being events when he's not annoyed by masses flashing him.

So what's his point ? He's very famous, kind of a star of the intellectuals, so that people attending his vulgarization conferences want to share what they are doing through the Internet because they're proud to have been close to him once ? What a big deal, uh.

I regularly use to attend to conferences, concerts, movies, exhibitions, talk-shows, theatre plays : still no cell phones flashing there... people aren't as bad as what he writes they are. And the young aren't worse than the previous generation (at the very least they are the result of what the previous generation did...).
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Old 12-12-2012   #35
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One could speculate that the anger that Umberto Eco feels could also stem from the fact that he feels people are more interested in his picture as a celebrity writer and intellectual rather than what he has to say.
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Old 12-12-2012   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Yes.

But we can object to Eco that there were some times in the past during which people had a very social behaviour as well as a very strong connection to what they were living ; and this often leaded to actual cataclysms with a lot of violence and horror.

If one has received some solid educational basis and a good sense of the fundamental values in life, by no means can the use of the cell phone or the Internet just blow all of that away.

I now read that article as something disconnected as well. Eco knows for sure that he's famous enough through his books, radio broadcasts, universities conferences, all of them being events when he's not annoyed by masses flashing him.

So what's his point ? He's very famous, kind of a star of the intellectuals, so that people attending his vulgarization conferences want to share what they are doing through the Internet because they're proud to have been close to him once ? What a big deal, uh.

I regularly use to attend to conferences, concerts, movies, exhibitions, talk-shows, theatre plays : still no cell phones flashing there... people aren't as bad as what he writes they are. And the young aren't worse than the previous generation (at the very least they are the result of what the previous generation did...).
His point is that people use their cameras instead of their brains to record events.
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Old 12-12-2012   #37
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Originally Posted by DominikDUK View Post
His point is that people use their cameras instead of their brains to record events.
First thing to do would be to give out a good definition of what an event is.

People extensively using cameras aren't mandatory decerebrated frogs.

Even if there is an actual values scale of how to use a camera (and an actual values scale of what a camera is).

For discussing technologies, modernity, new technologies, communication through machines, new faces of the barbarism, there are better writeups than what Eco wrote in this text, which is very schematic and binary, and can be summed-up to a classical "Things were better before".
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Old 12-12-2012   #38
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"His point is that people use their cameras instead of their brains to record events."

Yes, and I think that distinction is important. I always use a recorder when I do an interview, but I also take notes and engage directly with what the person is saying. I have seen new reporters who think the recorder exempts them from having to pay attention during an event.
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Old 12-12-2012   #39
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Old 12-12-2012   #40
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"His point is that people use their cameras instead of their brains to record events."

Yes again. And probably the pivotal point for us photogs (that him, as a non-photog fails to see), is that you can use both at the same time. Not only that, but using the camera can enhance the brain record, as Roger pointed out.

I often experience both sides of the coin: moments recorded both by my camera and my brain, that distinctly pop out of my memory, and moments obscured in my memory by the fact that I was just taking pictures and not experiencing them
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