Sunday, February 03, 2008
Maybe It Was a Cellphone Cam.
Sir Edmund Hillary died not too long ago. Lived a jolly good long life, as I'm sure he'd say, being British and all. But it reminded of something I had thought about long ago after looking at some photos of him on Everest. They seemed so modern. They're in color. They're pretty clear. While the materials of his clothing probably seem ancient by today's standards, they look pretty modern in the photo. It just looks so, so... today.
And that's my point. Over fifty years ago, a half century, and I can feel this connection with a time because the photos look so new. There's no clothing or cars to hilariously date it. In a way, my sense of past and present is based on what seems old or new. If the photo is in black & white, ah ha! That's old! If the photo is in color, oh, well it was just yesterday. Let's go back twenty five years, 1983. Holy shit! That was twenty five years?! Now that WAS just yesterday. We had computers, and video games, and heavy metal. We had Madonna, and pink Armani shirts, and the movie Wargames.
How will people twenty five years from now see the past. I just took some digital photos that are crisp, perfectly exposed, and vibrantly colorful. Ghostbusters seems like yesterday, how will today feel in another quarter century, and then, how will 1983 seem to them? Will it seem ancient? Will they look back on Billy Idol and rainbow socks as the quaint vagaries of a long-lost age?
Or will they lose a sense of what's old and what's new? Have we already? With bell bottoms, Star Wars, swing music, and James Dean eternal,will it always seem like yesterday? How do we, as a culture, anchor ourselves chronologically? I mean, the 1980's seems like yesterday. I'm a child of the 80's. I remember the toys, the shows, and the movies. But it's not just us. It's everyone. Everyone looks at the 80's as yesterday. I think it's because the 1980's saw the beginnings of everything by which we define the modern world. Computers, video games, special effects movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger, yuppies, affordable fashion, pop-music, global communication, and compact cars. It just seems so similar. Nothing disconnects us.
That's what I feel when I look at those photos of Hillary. I feel connected to a time when my mother was still shitting herself. It's weird. It seems like it should be so long ago. Like World War II seems forever ago, to me. I didn't live it, but there are tons of people who lived through it. Who fought in it. The war had computers, and bombs, and special scientific research. It was very modern. But still, even though it came less than a decade before Hillary, a time when they were still rebuilding, it seems forever ago.
Perhaps because it wasn't in color. Now everything is. It's a brave new world. A world of color.