These days, photography has become a way of life for many people. They take it as a form of relaxation as well as a form of having fun with what they do. Others have used photography to gain skills and make careers over it. Over the years, photography has been used as a way of keeping and storing memories of special events in a person’s life or in the society at large. It helps in locating time and gives one the ability to reminisce. Its importance is far and wide in almost all fields of science. It is an important tool in marketing and advertisement materials. For instance, aerial photography enables clients to have a good overview of a whole estate on sale (Alohaisland Weddings Para. 2). The brochures too require that they contain photos of those that are being offered. In addition, the fashion industry relies on the use of photos to keep trend of the past and the latest fashions. Besides, very fundamental events like weddings, anniversaries et cetra are treasured in photography. However, there have been changes in the photo industry to an extent that it is losing its fundamental roles it used to play in the society (ABC Para. 2).
The Now and Then photography exhibition which takes place in Sydney Australia explores various kinds of photographs that have been taken during different times in history. It also portrays artifacts which explain different phenomena in history through time. It is called a project with a twist since old photographs are rephotographed by taking new pictures at the place where the previous ones were taken. This is aimed at showing a window of change in time between the past and the present. The traditions are modernized as time elapses and post modernism is portrayed by the use of the current technologies in photography. However, it has been speculated that modernization and post modernism in photography has eluded the meaning and the message carried by photographs (ABC Para. 2).
The Now and Then exhibition which is an online project was launched by ABC in Australia on October 2010. It is said to be a historical photography project which has evolved the art of photography in the country. The reframing of an old picture with a new one is aimed at telling a story of older moments and how eras have transformed. Now and Then provides regional Australians the opportunity to share their stories to one another and the foreigners about local people and places. This is achieved by contributing pictures reframing ancient photos from a combination of collections including; libraries, family albums, museums and historical organizations, corporations and charitable societies. This exhibition celebrates and validates the rich tapestry of the past, landscapes and beliefs that are established across Australia (Greenhalgh 23).
The exhibition opened in June 2012 this year and included a collection of 2,400 photos. Theses photographs had been brought into the exhibition by participants who came in from all over Australia. Touch screen displays as well as video projections were not exempted in this event. The event provided visitors with a chance to tour back in time with gorgeous and memorable images of Afghan antiquity in the Kimberley, travelling circus elephants in Queensland, World War II prisoner confinement campsites in South Australia and early coast culture on the NSW. It acmes the color history and charisma of regionals of Australia and celebrates the captivating characters and accomplices behind the pictures (ABC Para. 3).
Benjamin (5) explains that by reproducing a photograph in post modernism by employing the currently available technological equipment, there are several aspects that will always lack. These aspects include its presence in space and time and the uniqueness of its existence in that particular place. It is through observing these aspects in a photo that one is able to cherish and understand the changes in the society. These also include the various changes that the photograph may have suffered over time. The author emphasizes that the authority and the historical testimony of a photograph is jeopardized. (Benjamin 6).
Another factor which is argued as a basis for the loss of value of photographs in modernism and post modernism is the concept of aura. Especially in this event of “now and then” the expression of the natural environment and its originality with time is tampered with. The uniqueness of a photo is inseparable from its fabric of tradition. The tradition itself which is embedded on a photograph is considered to be alive and subject to changes with time. The reframing of the old photos by new ones perpetuates the loss of originality. The message and information that should be learnt from the pictures is no longer available. This is because there are a number of elements that do not exist in the same place which used to be there. One should bear in mind that there are numerous geographical transformations that take place over time.
Jean Baudrillard theorized that when a sign does not have its original meaning it then starts to simulate. This is the same case with the photographs which are replaced new ones of this technological error. This criterion is termed as hyper reality. This is a situation where an original thing or object has been replaced with a new one and the representation then becomes more important. The simulation of such an object then collapses and therefore its illusion is no longer possible. Baudrillard (Para. 5) further elaborates that hyper reality is achieved by assuming total replacements. It is not possible to copy actions in a game and be able to act them in the real world. This is the reason why it is rare to find people who carry out such actions. This similar case happens with the replacements of photographs (Baudrillard 2, 5).
In this perspective, the similar events as the now and then exhibitions propagate the erosion of the treasured cultural heritage in a country. In as much as most people like modernity post modernism, the consequences that come with are irreparable. The reason why the exhibition is attracting many people from across the Australia is because of its claim of perpetuating the traditions. They claim that by using the same background as the one used in the past, one is demonstrating the connection between the historical past and the present time. This means that the traditions practiced are the same but the times are different. This is not often the case for there are fundamental aura elements that are lost between these two times. Therefore, such like events should not be held according to Baudrillard’s theory (Baudrillard 7).
Baudrillard beliefs that no matter the techniques and sophistication equipment that are used in photography, there remains one thing that is similar. This thing is that the way a photo will speak to a person will never change. Nonetheless, this is achieved when a photo is not tampered with in any way whether naturally or artificially. Baudrillard concludes by noting that the light of photography and pictures remains appropriate with the image (Baudrillard 3).
This approach of modernized and post modernized photography is explained by others as invented tradition. This is aimed at maintaining and observing one’s cultural and traditional beliefs and practices by using the sophisticated tools and equipment made out of the new technology. Invented tradition is often times taken to mean an established set of practices, usually governed by openly or tacitly recognized rules and of a customary or symbolic nature, whose objective is to inculcate certain ethics and norms of behavior by recurrence, which inevitably implies continuity with the past (Hobsbawn 76). Hence, this applies to the practices undertaken by Australians throughout the years and they have become a heritage and a country’s culture. The pictures show how the country’s culture remains the same and the events of the past are still practiced today but in a modernized manner. Conversely, these traditions are diluted more and more as time elapse and lacks originality (Benjamin and Walter 153).
Modernity has been described by Berman (66) as a force that threatens to destroy our heritage in different aspects. It is a growth in economy, experience, sensibility, pleasure and in knowledge which promises a better life for human beings. However, it leaves man with the fear of destroying or tampering with both the physical and social landscapes of man’s past. It also eludes the emotional links of people with those feeling, experiences and events of the past which make up the human history. As a result, man is becoming desperate as to whether ethnic, class, national and sexual groups that define ones identity still hold in the society. The transformation of using different types of materials from clothes, household goods, music and books that reveals man’s ideas, thoughts, fantasies and experiences in life is happening so fast. Such changes have eluded man’s clear and solid values that identify one and put that person in the right place in the society. These are the similar changes that have occurred in the field of photography. The now and then event is one elaborate example of modernism and post modernism that has been introduced into this industry. It shows how people are desperate to be attached to their traditional heritage leaving behind the modernism. It is an attempt of blending the past with the present even though they will never match (Berman 66).
The attempt of making the past, present and the future blend together and speak one language is not a good idea at all. The society should know that different times had different things taking place in a particular place. It is these specific phenomena that occurred at such times in history that defined a particular group of people and contributed to their traditions. These photographs that were taken at such events acted as a documentary of valuable phenomena that occurred and contributed to the evolution of man in any the society. It therefore becomes obsolete to try and take pictures at the same places that they were taken and frame them where the old ones were (Berman 69).
“We are, so to speak, ineluctably - existentially -moral beings: that is, we are faced with the challenge of the other, which is the challenge of responsibility for the other, a condition of being-for.” (Bauman 1). Buaman explains in his theory that the human being has a responsibility to take care of each other. This is found in the natural being of a person. For this reason, man tries to keep the past events in various storage devices and artifacts so as to remember or be able to retrace it. His view of modernity is that the social thought of human beings is the urge to know and understand nature and master it. By so doing, man makes it more suited to his needs and satisfaction (Bauman 1).
Sontag (3) denotes that humankind has made camp in Plato’s cave holding unto the age-old habits in trying to analyze images of truth. However, the explanations given by photographers on the pictures cannot by any way be compared with being educated with older and more artisanal images. The inventory is said to have started in the 17th century and since that time, virtually everything has been photographed and documented. In teaching people the new visual codes, it has been found out that the photographers alter our notions of what is seen and what is worth looking at. This alteration has hindered many people from upholding the importance of photography. Naturally, it should be that we hold the anthology of images in our world inside our heads (Sontag 5).
The collection of photographs is said to be a way of putting the world together. The use of movies and televisions elaborate a lot in the society but photographs may explain more even in its still and stagnant position. Besides, monuments and various historical sites have been associated with artifacts and pictures engraved and painted in them to illustrate treasures of ancient times. Photographs are said to be the most mysterious of all other objects in explaining the history and other classified treasures from around the world. Perhaps, this is the reason that many people have ventured into studying the work of photography and try to interpret it by using as many modern methods and techniques as possible. Nonetheless, the fact remains that replication and reframing of photographs does permanent replacement of the originality of the older pictures (Sontag 5).
In conclusion, the now and then exhibition event which took place this year in Sydney Australia is a clear indication of how desperate man wants to hold onto their traditions. It is a desire to cherish the past and ancient events as historical trademarks in the Australian society. The people of Australia have a belief that if they share their historical photos, they may stand a better chance of understanding their traditions and values in the society. However, this event destroys the values of those old photos by trying to modernize them. Giving them a background of digital cameras and touch screen gadgets alters their original message they carried. In this essay, modernism and post modernism in photography is portrayed as one that has diluted the interpretation of the history of a society. Culture and tradition plays an important role in photography and therefore altering or modernizing old photos leads to loss of these values in the society.
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