Our culture is overwhelmed by imagery. Facebook hosts over 100,000,000,000 images (100 billion). If the old adage is true, then chances are you’ve seen thousands of photographs today, and tomorrow you’ll wake up and do the same over again. The fact is, images don’t have the same power today that they did 100 years ago. For example, when the an audience first saw the short film, “train coming into a station,” the crowd erupted with screams as people felt the sensation of danger as what appeared to be a real train came toward them onscreen. We laugh today at the thought of a medium so pervasive having the kind of emotional impact that it did when first invented. Our minds are so inundated by images that we can watch movie after movie, and not remember what we saw a few minutes ago.
As a photographer, filmmaker, and artist, I often feel as though the medium I work through is as flavorful as eating one last chip–after eating an entire bag already. Though the image may be thoughtful and emotionally compelling, the audience has likely consumed too much media to give more than a passing thought to another set of images, and the chance of having a real emotional impact is minute. And the fact is, I am more often the audience than the artist. I am far more likely to skim or scan a body of work that someone has put months of their life and countless hours of energy into than to take a few minutes and really take in the full magnitude of the art
While so much of what you will see in the next 24 hours will be visual garbage, remember to be aware. Be cognizant of the beauty around you. Take time to look at those photographs and images that are thoughtful and excellent. Visual art drives our cultural identity in so many ways. Don’t allow the overwhelming nature of the media to take the beauty of looking at a beautiful creation away from us.