I’m sure that most of you have already seen the news story about Facebook’s
purchase of Instagram. Certainly the key takeaway was the purchase price – one billion dollars – yes, with a “B”. But I was more interested in a statistic buried in the story. According to Facebook, on average, the number of images uploaded daily to Facebook is 250 million. And that’s only Facebook. And that’s only what people chose to upload and not how many were actually taken.
Does such familiarity with image making leave the average person with a more sophisticated understanding of images in general? Or do the millions and millions of daily “snapshots” all just blend together – the good, the bad, and the ugly – into some flattened out visual background noise? Have apps such as Hipstamatic and other smartphone tools helped unleash the creativity of the masses or have they simply just raised the level of mundane?
I suppose, as is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps, whatever the baseline, “the cream always rises to the top” as they say. And the end result may very well be a greater general appreciation of the process of photography and of images that speak to us.
All this reminds me of an encounter I had a number of years ago with Robert Frank, arguably the most important photographer of the Twentieth Century. I was very fortunate, and honored, to do some printing for him. In fact, I believe this was his first foray into the world of digital printmaking. He was wonderful to work with and I enjoyed each and every encounter we had. One day, as we were viewing some of his juxtaposed images, his assistant was busily rattling on about which combinations worked together and why (a bit excessively I thought). After a few moments Mr. Frank turned to me, with a sense of bemusement over such a fuss, and said, “You know, Art, in the end they’re all just pictures!” Wise words from a wise man.
As for me, when I wonder about all of this, I am reminded of Voltaire’s exhortation to tend one’s own garden. These days my garden remains full of fossils!
Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com
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