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media ecology

media ecology

For about three years I babysat a little munchkin who I consider my best friend. Seeing this sweet boy grow up over the course of three years was both an honor and a privilege. We would play with toy cars, dance to “Life is a Highway” one minute, and a classical number the next. We told stories and pointed out just about every tractor, trailer, fire truck and ambulance on the road. We overcame fears of jumping into the pool and planted seeds in the garden under the hot July sun. Not only did this boy have the most beautiful physical features, but his personality was like no other; caring and gentle yet absolutely hilarious and wild. He loved making me laugh. 

I took a lot of photos of him. From the first few months that I got to know him to the day before his family moved. I sent a lot of snapchats. I posted a lot of Instagram pictures. I look back on these memories often and smile.  While babysitting so consistently for a few years, I formed bonds that I didn’t think were possible. I finally began to understand a very, very small percentage of the nearly inexplainable joys of motherhood, as well as the matching fears. This baby could recognize me from a mile away. He would smile and yell “Gi Gi!” When I wore a new hat or changed my hair style, he would notice. 

One day I realized that it was becoming harder and harder not to capture certain moments with my cell phone. I began to wonder what this looked like from his perspective. As a photographer who’s favorite medium is portraiture, I think faces are the most interesting subject matter. While we differ in skin tone and our features vary in size and shape, our faces are organic. They change, wrinkle, and scar. I find beauty in this. 

But that day when I tried to picture how this young child saw me, I knew that the curves of my face were being replaced by the corners of my iPhone. This is the theme of the photos below. 

 I was glued to that device, especially when I was around him, making sure I always had a means of preserving certain moments. It caused me to wonder what other aspects of perception does technology affect? This is media ecology, a theory that...

"centers on the principles that technology not only profoundly influences society, it also controls virtually all walks of life; it is a study of how media and communication processes affect human perception and understanding"...

I don't want to be one of those people who offers another critique on the effects that technology and media have on our society, nor do I want to make a moral judgment. I simply want to take a step back, with my camera in hand. Memory making and preserving is a worthy act. I simply wanted to create a space for conversation. It’s not about nostalgia or "the good old days". This is simply a framework for understanding. Experiences can be mediated in a number of ways; it’s not about social media and its positive or negative effects, but our relationship to reality and our quality of life. It’s about the potency of our memories, a potency which is disappearing quickly. 

When brainstorming how to visually portray an experience that is mediated, I kept returning to the image of something clouded or distant, yet still visible. As silly as it felt to wrap a tree as I would my lunch, it was the most creative I could get, as this was the end of a crazy finals week. So, I am trying to evaluate my relationship with technology, and this series of photos serve are the beginning of a commentary for the ways in which media environments have played a role in human affairs, the way that they not only tear down but create boundaries and alter perception. 

 

 

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