There’s so much to tell you all about my travels in Paris. The lights stretching over the inky black Seine, the oh-so fashionable Parisians, the bookstores, the bakeries.
But before I write my photo narratives and list of Studs and Duds, I want to discuss a disturbing new social development: the need to compulsively take photos of art. Or I suppose on a bigger scale, our need to document and share everything.
A few days before I left for Paris, I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, a multi-layer mockumentary about street art, directed by Banksy, that dude all your hipster friends are so into.
The movie tells the story of Theirry Guetta who films every waking moment of his life, from banal trips to the grocery store to his baby’s first steps. He eventually turns his focus to his cousin “Invader,” a street artist who creates these space invader mosaics:
Invader introduces Thierry to all kinds of street artists. He becomes what Hunter Thompson was to the Hells Angels—an insider, able to access what others cannot. Mid-film (*spoiler alert*) the audience realizes that Thierry isn’t a filmmaker; he’s mentally ill, a hoarder of footage because his mom died when he was a kid and he’s afraid of missing moments. He has great footage, but makes an unusable film.
He reminds me of myself and my own compulsive need to document everything. But it’s not just me. It’s a lot of us. And I don’t even have a smartphone.
Exit Through the Gift Shop stayed fresh in my mind when I went to Paris. I spent hours in the Pompidou, the Louvre, the Dali museum, and then another day with my bros vanGogh and Gougin at Musee d’Orsay.
Saw lots of world-famous art, paintings and sculptures my art teacher told me I would never see.
That was cool.
This was not.
Long lines of people at the Louvre taking photo after photo, not waiting more than a minute to absorb the work. At the Mona Lisa, I had to stand on my toes to glance over the wall of raised iPads and iPhones. The band of zombies clicked away like we were on a safari and an elephant emerged from the brush.
Why are we in such a rush to snap, share, and go?
Is it because we’re all walking around with mini-computers and it’s so convenient and so irresistible? Or like Thierry, are we afraid of missing something?
Do we live by the “pictures or it didn’t happen” rule? Do we think that our taste in art, like everything else must be added to our profiles, those tapestries that express just how unique we’re
Likes: Degas. Before he was cool.
One day, we’ll be lining up to look at the Mona Lisa through Google Glass and pulling up her stats in real time, like she’s a virtual baseball card. It’s terrifying.
How will we be moved by art if there’s a screen between us and it?
Ring In: why are we taking photos of everything? And if you dare, give a shoutout to a favorite piece of art you saw in real life.