There’s something new happening in the way people use images. I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this afternoon. I looked around, and three people simultaneously were taking pictures of paintings. With their phones.
I saw this happening at MOMA yesterday too. Seeing that I thought, hey, a Rothko as the background image on my phone would be pretty cool. It was only the second time I used the camera on it (he first time was, of course, when I opened the box. I still have the accidental first photo of my patio as my background image.) I’m still technically ignorant of what to do next with these photos. I am unwilling to sign up for a service. There’s no one I need to share them with. I don’t know if there’s anyway to get them out of my phone and onto my computer.
The rest of the world, apparently, is way past me on this one. I’m interested in the kind of engagement with art, the capture of the experience that this picture-taking with a cell phone represents. Is this the image of a work of art that is going to be their touchstone of the encounter? Is it a lazy substitute for actually experiencing the work? Are they going to have any memory of the original work? Reproductions are notoriously misleading ways of understanding art. There is no substitute for standing in the thrall of the work itself. What does taking low resolution photos, that you see on a postage stamp of a screen, suggest for the future of artistic literacy? I wish Susan Sontag were still around to say something trenchant about this phenomenom.