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21 Instagrams

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Nothing Is Real - Goo Goo Dolls (mp3)

Myth has it that the soul weighs 21 Instagrams.

The evolution of digital photography has forever changed the art of family memory. Like all major changes, the yin and yang are quickly identified.

yin: Less expensive, more pictures, and with smartphones, the camera is always within reach.
yang: More pictures, fewer prints, and the camera is always within reach, even when it would be best left untouched.

It's not in my nature to envy many things in this fleeting life. Dust to dust, right? As a Droid user, I rarely begrudge my cool iPhone friends their market-savvier, slicker devices. Why do I give much of a shit about one app or the other when my phone's core value is in the calendar, the email, the weather, and the occasional photo?

All the fancy apps are, ultimately, the smart phone version of spoilers, hood ornaments and rear wings. Yeah yeah, the leather interior is nice, but all I want is four wheels that get me there, and that attitude usually applies to my phone as well.

But Instagram was different. I'd see Instagram photos show up in my Facebook stream.

What I mean is, I always noticed Instagram shots. They always caught my eye. They were like little Polaroids in digital form, and they seemed to invite the kind of creative outlook from a camera eye that had gotten lost somewhere in our digital photography evolution.

They weren't just pictures of faces and standard family shots, they were artsy. Faux artsy? Maybe.

Are Instagrams : art photography :: Goo Goo Dolls : Replacements?

Maybe, but dammit, the Goo Goo Dolls have some pretty catchy ditties even if they're a bit sold out and plastic. Even Bob thinks so, and unlike me he has respectable musical standards.

On Wednesday, I found out Instagram was available for the Droid, and I went apeshit. I've posted eight pictures in just over three days, and I've taken a couple dozen more. On Friday I downloaded this cool Photogrid app that allows you to combine several less-stellar pics into a single Instagram.

Although I'm still working on some of the details of my style and vision, my Instagram mission for now is capturing a few key aspects of my environment:

  • The school campus where I work.
  • My semi-suburban domesticated existence.
  • The omnipresence of Christianity in the South.

The last one promises to be the most fun, to be the one that requires my eyes to be a little more open and attuned to the world around me. Instead of just driving or walking from point A to B, I've found myself looking for iconography and images that speak to the South's connection to Jesus. Sometimes that connection is faulty, suspect, misguided, comical. Often it's touching and powerful. Either way, it feels important to me.

And Instagram offers me this perfect way to journal, visually, my own struggles and fascination. It just might feed the same corner of my soul that poetry nourished in my youth.

A picture is only worth 1,000 words if someone cares to look, if someone cares to read the picture. I've filled a half-dozen journals full of thousands of words no one will ever read, and now I've found some way to feed part of that hunger through pictures, to capture it all and bookmark my screwed-up mind.

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