The Analogue Revival

(A long time ago, I wrote this and posted on the community bulletin of GOOD Magazine’s website. Since then . . . I lost the password to my online account there. So I’m having to cut and past it and re-post it here. I’m tempted to tweak certain parts of this article for the sake of making myself more clear, but I don’t want to spoil the original text. Enjoy, indulge, or endure.)

Technology is as much a part of man as is his heart, civilization as his body. Technology is absolutely necessary in the survival and advancement of the species, to gain knowledge and master his environs faster, higher, and farther with more efficiency. Yet there comes a time when everything must have a limit in its advancements or its use. Digital is not environmentally friendly and everything from digital phones to digital video is meant to be used and stored onto a computer. Digital is the worst thing to happen to artists. Convenience causes laziness. Digital has the least resolution that worsens over time and cannot be restored; it deteriorates much more quickly and cannot be stored for long periods of time, nor properly archived because of constant changes and outdating of the formats it’s been recorded on; it can be copied and deleted with a click, accidental or intentional, and with or without consent when it comes to the latter; its cameras last for only a few good months because technology is changing so rapidly; it relies on electricity (batteries or not) that needs constant changing and requires money to provide, which doesn’t make it free or environmentally friendly; it is not secure and cannot be secured from computer glitches, file corruption, viruses or hackers; it can easily be manipulated and tampered with; if your computer forces to close the program you were using to tweak the photograph, you lose it and have to start again or, if you were stupid enough to delete the original on your camera and not save an original copy of the one you’re using, you’re fucked; if your computer shuts down or can no longer function, you’re forced to get a new one instead of sending it away for maintenance and spare parts or doing repairs yourself; when you keep buying new machines within six months, the old one becomes a waste of the very few resources this planet has; and every time you turn on and use a cell phone or camera or computer, you receive an amount of radiation, where its uncertain if it causes cancer. Since when did someone get a tumour for looking at a paper photo or processing film and photographs under the light of a darkroom? There’s a long, detailed list. We have people who read using a Kindle, a stupid electronic gadget for readers too lazy to turn a page. Books are the foundation of civilization as is paper and machines. Why need to have a backlit digital frame for your digital photos when you could use the fucking sun, for free, to look at pictures of people, places and things printed on paper? While a digital camera would short-circuit in the rain, mechanical ones are almost multi-seasonal and last for decades if given regular maintenance and good care. As for money, cheap digital cameras that you can’t really use manually and personalize their photographs can be found anywhere, catering to the common customer, not the photographer. They’re designed for only family moments, not artistic creativity; the former requires no effort, while the latter inspires real effort. Granted, digital can be only useful in the newsroom, science lab and army, since it is instantaneous and the speed of information is necessary for news and journalism, analysis and research and experimentation, intelligence and tactics … but that is where it should stay, and that’s how far it should only go. Only news, scientific and military video and photos should be digital. Print news must also move back from cyberspace to the paper pages of a newspaper or magazine. Important and crucial online news articles and reporting can’t last long, because they end up as a dead link or 404 or defaced by bored vandals within months, with the original article forever lost. The largest threat to digital photography and digital filmmaking is the possibility of collateral damage in the midst of a cyber-war. At least, though, that would rid the internet of the puerile junk that occupies 90% of YouTube, especially ones that overuse the soundtrack of Requiem For A Dream, which is a film that one could bet 99% of all who uses its soundtrack never saw it. However, it would also rid YouTube of the other (excluding 9% that are corporate channels) 1% that are original productions of users. Internet is no different from television. It gets its revenues from advertisers, and in turn the website modifies itself to keep those advertisers. What is so wrong with working to earn a living so you can buy what you want, to simply pay a few dollars for a book or magazine or a book of photographs or a film? Because something is free, it means you have no need to work to earn money, but rely on others that do, becoming a useless parasite who will one day lose his internet and find himself in the dark, alone, fat, powerless and broke? Thus to all artists and filmmakers, photographers and designers, calligraphers and writers, go back to 35mm and 120 film, go back to film projectors and splicers, go back to the darkroom, go back to the printing press with its crisp type and handmade covers. Getting something for free isn’t defying the corporation that owns your technology and your communication. You’re still paying it your internet fees. When you buy a book or zine, all (or most of) your money goes to its creator to create more. Your interest feeds the author or artist of the work you bought, not their interest in you. There’s a difference between a fast food menu and an art gallery. Return your digital cameras and camcorders and buy or demand a film one. If you want to digitize your photos, save enough to get a film scanner so that your original negatives don’t get destroyed if some hacker shitwad raids your hard drive and either deletes it, corrupts it or, horror of horrors, copies or steals your lovely works and claim it as their own, selling it online for 99¢. In fact, buy a new or used enlarger and other darkroom equipment, and look around the house for a room to work in. Learn how to manually focus again and what film speed to use; know the difference between depth of field and depth of focus, what papers have the best grain for the look on your photographs, how to dodge and burn. Forget the blog and start publishing in magazines and anthologies again or start your own.

It’s time for an analogue revival, a counter-digital revolution.

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