Everyday is an adventure; the spontaneity of events that unfold before us shape the way we view reality. For some, it is best to enjoy those life moments as they happen, remembering all the details with one’s memory, while others stress the importance of capturing those precious moments with devices, framing and composing shots to document an unforgettable experience. THE MENAGERIE contrasts the intimacy of real life experiences (E) with the man-made nature of recorded imagery (R).
R: Suckers for Souvenirs
Imagine having no copies of your own baby pictures, any photo albums, or picture frames in your homes. Just the thought of it makes life less complete right? We have to thank our self-proclaimed photographers in the family for their passion for documentation. Let’s admit it: we are guilty of having a to-see-is-to-believe mentality. We are skeptical towards someone who claims to have gone on a successful venture without showing us proofs— whether it be a photo, a video, or a newspaper feature. We regret not having a photo opportunity with a celebrity we bumped into, but sometimes the regret can come from simply leaving the house without a gadget that can record images. According to a survey conducted by Nokia, Filipinos topped the list of eight countries surveyed for the habit of taking pictures of themselves using their camera mobile phones. It is undeniable that we are fond of keeping things as souvenirs, and with the technology we have on our hands, snapping away as events take place is our own little way of saving a remembrance.
E: Memories as Permanent Souvenirs
Do you remember the time when you first scratched your knee when you were out at play? The scar left on your knee was from playing tag with your neighbors years ago. What about that time you had your first heartache? You swore to everyone that you felt a crack somewhere in your heart. Do you remember how it felt when the person you loved was taken away from you? It is certain that these memories are etched in our minds. Tangible items may be taken from us, leaving us to think that we are left with nothing, but in reality, we actually have everything that we need.
The delightful idea behind experiences is that they can never be taken away from you; they are untouched, whole, and they are yours to keep. Once you have placed yourself in a situation and give yourself the opportunity to feel a wide range of emotions, see the world with your own pair of eyes, feel and discover them with such intricate detail with or without someone, these experiences are entirely yours. It is true that there are two sides to an experience, but always remember that yours is simply your own. Interesting fact? It will always remain that way.
R: From Kodak to Point and Shoot
While you are being trigger-happy with your digital cameras at present, 186 years ago, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, a French inventor, used a camera obscura to produce the first recorded image in history. In 1888, the famous Kodak camera was released, enabling people to capture up to a hundred photos in a roll of film, while Steven Sasson invented the first digital camera by 1975. Surprisingly, the first camera phone is not the Nokia 7650, it is the J-Phone, manufactured by Japan’s electronics firm Sharp. All these inventors from all across the world have the same goal, and that is to capture memories in just a single press of a button. In photography, unlike paintings, images produced are closest to reality; photos allow people to live vicariously.
E: Living in The Moment
Travelling and attending concerts are two concrete examples of instances that do not occur everyday. The first item one would grab for the trip would most probably be either a digital camera or a video camera. These two devices are used as equipment to immortalize the experience. However, notice how technology is taking over today with its ever improving features. Martin Parr, a photographer, wrote an entry in his blog and said, “My theory is that the act of photographing ourselves at tourist sites becomes so important, because it makes us feel reassured that we are part of the recognizable world.” In events such as these, we are too busy capturing the moment that we forget to live in the moment.
R: Learning Visually
Not everyone is born a bookworm, or a fan of lengthy texts; the eyes must feast on something else aside from words. Thanks to recorded imagery, our sense of sights is fed with information, often difficult to explain using words. It is true: some things are better explained when illustrated. Gone are the days of a learning hub where textbooks are the primary source of reference. Photos often aid curious minds towards endless learning, and make reading less tedious. Recorded imagery and texts go hand in hand; captions are essential to avoid misconceptions towards pictures that are often open to many interpretations.
E: Learning From Experience
“Experience is the best teacher.” Despite reading about certain topics such as emotions, lessons, values and the like, we may learn about them through books, but we will never truly learn unless we have experienced them ourselves. Experiences, whether good or bad, always have lessons. They open our eyes to new things about life. It is in these moments that you always learn something more than you expect to, and once you’ve gained the first hand experience, you would know how to deal with them once they come around once more. Results may vary for everyone, but the reason behind such a conclusion is because we are all to trying to figure things out. The best way to figure things out is learning through experience. It is true when people say that with experience comes growth. The more you grow, the better a person you become.
R: The Beginning of Moving Pictures
While it is evident that recorded images are dull, flat, and artificial, the discovery of moving images counters this notion. In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge’s series of photos of galloping horses, which aimed to answer the question “Was there a moment mid stride when horses had all hooves off the ground?” were said to be the foundation of cinematography. The power of films is unparalleled; it is an art form that can satisfy the senses the most, the closest to real life experience. Films capture the emotions of the viewers, and leave them with messages about life as they leave the cinemas.
E: Human Interaction and Personal Connections
Technology and social media are two things that are taking over today. However in the times when we are surrounded by people, having small interactions such as paying for grocery shopping, talking a walk in the park, watching a movie in the cinemas along with hundreds of people, singing along to a crowd in a live concert, personal connection binds us together. In that moment, we all get in touch in our sense together, we see, feel, taste, touch, hear everything. In that moment, we are all creating our own memories and experiencing life at the same time.
R: A Time Capsule of Experiences
Human beings are armed with a mighty weapon where information and experiences are stored—the brain. It is evident that we are storing memory in our brains; we remember what we ate for breakfast, birthdays, and lessons from last year. But we are not certain when and how long our memory will last. Two of the biggest categories of our memory are short-term memory or working memory, and long-term memory. Both of them can weaken because of age and clinical conditions. This is where recorded imagery makes its magic: when our memory fails us, photos and videos can aid us in remembering an experience, and to live the experience once more. We turn to recorded imagery to bring back the lost memories we once had.
E: Experiencing and Remembering The Most Significant
Nobel prize-winner and a founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman, tells us that our experiencing self is not the same as our remembering self. What we experience, we do not always remember.
A small portion of our experiences is only captured for us to remember. But Kahneman explains that the remembering self pays significant attention to three things, these being changes, significant moments, and endings.
R: Shoot and Share
If there is a player who has successfully changed the course of human interaction, then that person would have to be Mark Zuckerberg. His brainchild Facebook has become a billion dollar business with the simple goal of getting different people in touch with everyone else, made possible by sharing events through photos and videos. It has become a worldwide phenomenon; telecommunication companies have seized this opportunity to feed people with their curiosity and generosity with posting multimedia. Facebook’s recent acquisition, Instagram, has become a haven for sepia-toned and edited photos of all sorts of things. With these sites, everyone is granted the power to know a thing or two about someone who is not even an acquaintance. These social media websites sure make the world a smaller place to live in.
E: Stop Viewing, Start Living
According to a survey by the Digital Buzz Blog, 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed. How does this have an effect on us? A study conducted by Alex Jordan, a doctoral psychology student from Stanford, results show that we tend to compare our lives to others, therefore leaving us sadder and lonelier even by just looking at how happy our peers are through photos, their new accomplishments and their status messages. Instead of doing something meaningful with our lives we are left to watch the lives of others, and this has the tendency to depress us. Social media should not rule our lives. According to Libby Copeland, a writer, she says, “Go live your life and make your own great photographic moments, or not. My best memories are in my head. The greatest ones I have, will never make it on Facebook.”
R: History: Preserved
With the primary goal of capturing events as they occur comes the preservation of history to be passed on from generation to generation. Photos come in handy to those who were not born at a single point in time to witness a life-changing event that has shaped the course of history forever. Recorded imagery takes us to places we have never been and will never be, to events that happened and can never happen again. It is one thing we can hold on to when everything else around us changes. Our history is permanent, and its permanency strengthened with recorded imagery.
E: Learning from history
Based from Horacio dela Costa’s Three Lectures on History, one lecture focused on the question, “Does History Teach Anything?” It is true that history teaches us lessons, for problems are not new. They have been dealt with by people from the past. However, it is a misconception that history is hindsight and foresight. Horacio dela Costa teaches that history gives us knowledge of men; from the knowledge and experiences of these men, we gain a kind of wisdom. “The courage to face the facts, the humility to learn from them, the intelligence to act upon them, and the faith to believe that if we do what in us lies… God will do the rest.”
At the end of the day when we look back at the memories we have made, going through them with the help of our recordings or wishing that we could relive the experience, either way is, in truth, perfect. Merging the two, we could use recordings to remember, and to remind us about the experiences we had when a significant moment in our life has taken place.