Analog photography is dignifying because it’s out of the hands of the algorithms.WIRED
For my Digital Artefact, I am looking towards the short, medium and long-term future of “dead” analogue media and mediums, specifically film and instant photography:
- 12 months from now (March 2022)
- after 5 years (2026)
- 30 years on (2051)
The purpose of my DA is to introduce my target audience (Gen Z who use TikTok and are a part of the cottagecore, soft boy/girl and VSCO subcultures) to film photography to give them a medium that is analogue, something to break up the chaos of our digital world. This in turn should generate more interest in the film movement, as well as get my work out to a larger audience.
I own a half-frame film camera, specifically an Olympus Pen FT as shown above, and this is key for my DA because it is half-frame; that is, it is a vertical-orientated camera. This will not only save me money on film by doubling the amount of frames I can take on one roll (check out the images below, basically half of the usual full-frame rectangle makes two vertical shots side-by-side), but it is also perfect for the TikTok, smartphone and Instagram Reels format – vertical screens and images are the way to go!
Gen Z allegedly has an attention span of 8 seconds, compared to the Millennial’s supposed 12 (Forbes). Therefore I will be posting very short videos, between eight and twelve seconds, to TikTok to cater for my audience’s preferences.
Since the plan is to produce six 8-second videos over the next 8 weeks, I will be able to listen to my audience, respond to comments, survey them for what they’d want to see next, and use this feedback each week to iterate the next video.
The image is a universal form of communication. Film photography is a medium that has not lost its impact; it can still be read and understood clearly, far into the future (eat your heart out, Domesday Project).
However, there is a difference between photography and image capturing, and there is a difference between a camera that makes photographs & a computer made by a former camera company that captures images. This is the dilemma digital photography faces. The metaphorical soul is missing.
Film is a delicate medium, and all the control is given to the user. So… it’s easy to make mistakes (trust me). This explains the trends driving electronic auto-focus auto-exposure auto-winding film cameras to astronomical prices that far exceed their actual value.
Spoiler: these aren’t the cameras you should be shooting film with (I’m looking at you, Contax T2/Yashica T4/Olympus Mju ii) no matter how many celebrities plug them. Mechanical film cameras are easier to learn on, look way cooler, last for literal decades, and are often a lot cheaper (like, $1000 cheaper).
I am anticipating that my audience needs someone relatable (read: closer in age) to explain problems, demonstrate controls and show them how to use film. I am no expert, I’m just passionate bro.
Point is, film is magic – if you learn the right way.
Somesthetic or sensory marketing, media-based nonlinearities, authenticity and tangibility are only a few of the things I want to explore in relation to my DA. Gen Z is much more insistent on authenticity, and this connection with film as an authentic, slow analogue media should be taken advantage of.
I want to provide an experience that my audience can enjoy. This is not a unique way of thinking though, and concepts like David Dobrik’s app Dispo have begun to emerge in response. Dispo is a new exclusive social media app that displays photos 24 hours after they have first been taken. This appeals to the same range of internet subcultures that I am targeting, and it is a move that cleverly combats the digital sphere’s instant gratification. However I want to move the focus away from algorithms and back to the original medium. If you’ve got a pair of hands and a pair of eyes, you can use film.
I am also interested in exploring ‘technostalgia’ and the generational medias that we grow up with. We have reached the point in history when generations have grown up knowing only the digital sphere. This has created a unique audience of both nostalgic users and brand new users of “dead” media.
There is more to do to encourage the life of this media, which is why I am tackling this specific DA. While we wait on companies like Kodak, Canon, Nikon etc. to bring back old film cameras made this century, I can still promote the medium and show why I enjoy it so much, even more than digital photography.
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WIRED. 2020. Film Photography Can Never Be Replaced. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wired.com/story/film-photography-can-never-be-replaced/. [Accessed 17 March 2021].