Sunday, December 26, 2010

The fountain of youth resides in a pixel

The graduate checked out my December 12th blog and noted the picture of me and Al from 1977.  We were facebook chatting  late one night, and the discussion went as follows: 

Him:  i really really really regret that i'll never have old photographs to look back on that look as much like old photographs as that one of you and dad on your blog today.  i resent digital technology.

Me:  :-)

Grandma took it with a very crummy 'instamatic camera' - no aperture control, no focus control, no shutter speed control...just click and there is your photo. It is what almost everyone had back then. SLR's were very rare.

I should say, click, finish the roll of film sometime in the next year, take to the drugstore and pick up the prints a week later, and there is your photo. I skipped a couple of steps in there somehow!

Him:  haha yeah... just man.
film grain.
so good.

Me:  Hmmm....I guess it has its charms

Him:  "crappy" and old is so in these days.
the aesthetics of degradation are so hip.

Me:  I am aging at just the right time then, eh?

I went off to bed feeling rather good about myself, knowing that showing my age is hip.  But, really, Eric raises an interesting point.  We boomer babies have worked very hard to eliminate all evidence of aging.  People have long sought eternal youth, but our generation has almost found it!   Think about it, Sally Field  is 64 and Paul McCartney is 68.   They certainly don’t look it!  Personally, I haven’t worried too much about wrinkles or gray hairs, but I have become, unwittingly, a cheerleader for perpetual perfection.

How so?


My Dad, 1946
While my son might like the grainy, fading images of yore, I fully embrace digital photography for a whole host of reasons.  Convenience, control, less waste, more immediacy, etc.  And to honest, I include among those reasons that digital images don’t fade, as he  pointed out.  The photographs of my children taken after 1998 will never change.   The photographs of the places we’ve been will become dated only if the places change;  the images will look as sharp and vibrant in 50 years as they did the day they were taken.
The same with music!  We grew up listening to LP’s that clearly showed signs of age:  scratches and skips, the warble of warp-age.  And,  cassette tape was just distortion waiting to happen.  CD’s eliminated the warbles and distortions, but were still prone to skips and scratches.  But digital music downloaded for an iPod remains perfect forever.  My iPod stores hundreds of hours of music, no skips, no scratches, no warbles, no distortion.  I can carry it anywhere and listen to whatever I want, pretty much whenever I want.  And it always does and always will sound great!

Likewise, my Kindle allows me to travel with hundreds, even thousands, of books contained in a space about the size of a normal paperback. The pages will never tear, yellow or become dog-eared.   And digital movies will always remain crisp, sharp and vibrant.  The film doesn’t stretch, break or scratch.

I am not about to make a case for returning to the old ways.  Like I said, I am a cheerleader for digital technology.  I love my Kindle, my iPod, my camera, and DVD movies.  I am of the generation that worked to create permanent perfection, but I find it interesting that the next generation has developed an appreciation for the aesthetics of natural degradation and embraces imperfection.  

And so, the pendulum swings….back and forth….back and forth.

Today I am grateful for Christmas—the season of generosity and goodwill,  of light in the dark of winter, of love for family and friends.  Like Ebenezer Scrooge, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. “

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