I’ve been learning to see through different eyes using an old camera taking snapshots every 4 seconds throughout the day. The turbulent cloud formations that occurred during daylight hours on May 20th, 2018 were quite a sight to behold, once the images were stitched together into a video. Adding music from Tchaikovsky made viewing the video like watching a ballet in the sky. Copyright prevents adding the music I would like to have published here, but the video probably says enough on its own for you to get the point.
Wildflowers along the roadsides were on remarkable display a few weeks ago. Watching cells divide as organized structures return to growth from winter’s hibernation across the years is much like watching a time-lapse of the clouds across the hours in a day. What can be read in a book in a day can often take years to acquire through experience. The time-lapse above is a page in the book version of the sky here.
When it takes centuries to see something, we often have to resort to images of the past, or the stories of others, recorded testimony, peering into the remains of what is left behind. It takes vast amounts of it to deduce what in a single lifetime we cannot see. What do the seasons of the Earth look like when viewed from a time-lapse spanning tens of thousands of years? Science can interpret from what remains, but it isn’t quite the same as experiencing it, anymore than reading a book contains the whole of experience of the lives written about. Astrophotographers are now putting time-lapse videos together of nebulae — offering insights that can take decades to begin to see as opposed to simulating using computers.
As debates regarding privacy spread in this age of social media, as movies and books contemplate and argue the various ways massive databases can be both beneficial and detrimental to our understanding of the world and our place in it, we have some decisions to make. As folders, files, programs, and data become more inwardly thought provoking as something we are (as opposed to something we create), I suddenly find myself thinking about my own time-lapse.
As a younger child, many years ago, I had a working memory of a minimum of 10 to 15 phone numbers, multiple addresses, directions both near and far, and an array of other information that I needed instant access to. Spending time inside as opposed to outside kept the scales tipped towards the outside influence most of the time. Now, as technology has progressed, without assistance there aren’t many phone numbers that I can instantly recall. As for addresses, I can get someone in the general vicinity of places other than where I live if I had to give them directions, but street numbers these days escape me. Such internal processes have long since been underutilized since the smartphone. The muscles have grown weak, or perhaps simply allocated for another use. My reliance on technology has become an overwhelming influence on what my days look like. When a mind that has so many questions can find most of them with a few finger taps on a screen, and references that once had to be memorized and taught through education can now be accessed in the same manner by anyone who knows how to access the internet, I begin to ask myself, what is a body to do? Have you tried recently to see how many phone numbers you have memorized?
Transitioning from oral tradition to written tradition must have been something of a similar experience to reliance on new technology for my generation and those that came before. Of course both are still in use today, though one tends to dominate the other where knowledge is concerned. There was a time, in my own time, when charging for water seemed like a crime (if you lived in a rural area). “What will we be charged for next,” some asked, “the air?” Oxygen bars of course have already seen the light of day. As devices and programs trend toward the rent or lease phase, where we pay to borrow what we use and for the upgrades we want to apply, I find myself in just such a rural area asking now, “What will we have to pay for next, the very bodies we inhabit?”
Different eyes, indeed!