Narcissism and the Electric Eye
In his latest podcast, Common Filth discussed the pedophilic interests of acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, and several things clicked for me. “The history of film is in some ways the history of great artists photographing beautiful women.” I may have misattributed this quote to Godard (this is the only similar source I could find) but his AZ Quote page is rife with examples which sustain my thesis:
The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.
The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desires.
Objects exist and if one pays more attention to them than to people, it is precisely because they exist more than the people. Dead objects are still alive. Living people are often already dead.
The savages were right; the camera does steal our souls, and it has never been more self-evident than in these days of Facebook Selfie culture, and institutionalized narcissism.
One of the commenters, Gio Penn, mentioned Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind Humans of New York, as a perfect example of this. Watch the video below; he mistakes a five minute conversation of pseudo-profundity (“What’s the saddest thing that ever happened to you?”) and a staged image for getting to know someone.
He doesn’t know anything about who they actually are; in fact, the very act of photography divorced those people from knowing themselves.
“What I’m looking for is a story,” he says – and if he has to force reality to conform to a story, he’s more than happy to do so.
Beware the electric eye. It is – at best – a very dangerous tool.