Friday, February 5, 2010

Low Q, Hi Fi

I'm reporting here a short series with words I published on 591 few days ago. It's all about images quality and the message laying underneat.

On the importance of the apparently insignificant

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wished to have your gears at your side but you couldn’t rely on any other real means for fixing the picture in front of you than your eyes, an unsharpened pencil (and the backside of a business card) or, in the most favourable cases, your no-more-last-generation mobile phone?

Yes, your mobile, that small buzzing thing slipped into your inner jacket pocket that’s able to take images of questionable quality like the first digital consumer cameras did ten years ago.

I remember my first “light capturing device” was a Kodak that was sold to me as able to deliver “up to” one million pixels. With some elementary maths I foresaw I could have printed high quality images up to 3”x4”, just like the dimension of an instant camera prints.

Today things have sensibly changed and that “up to” has turned into “no more” and low-end products have widely outclassed those numbers. As a matter of fact, my bruised three years old mobile phone has a small hole on his back resembling the stenopeic aperture of a pinhole cam and its images quality is no better than that of my old Kodak was able to grant. Feels just like ten years haven’t passed.

Last Christmas I unsuccessfully tried to switch that machinery on. So I left that “toy” to my son, to let him play and act like he’s always seen his father to do.

Bad exposure, few pixels, unclear aims resulting into ephemeral images. Yet, in some cases when I’m travelling, at work or in some other “controlled” environment I can’t stop myself by picking this small thing out, turn myself to the subject and press the shutter button while I mimic as if I was dialling an SMS, looking up for a number or simply checking for unanswered calls.

And when I put my phone back in my pocket I wonder: what was it necessary for? Was it just to have in turn some images that are worst than al old Polaroid left going mouldy for years in a basement?

I don’t know. I can’t answer. In most cases I just can’t avoid to take pictures and store them as if they had the same dignity of their descendants taken with the latest digital reflex. There must be for sure a psycho-therapeutic reason behind, but this is not convincing me at all.

Now I should find a way to share and let other people to feel and appreciate what I can perceive from these kinds of imperfectly-born documents: spontaneity and immediacy of these frozen in time events; surprise, ingenuity and intimacy of unaware subjects. Could these values ever be sufficient to balance the poor quality of what I’m holding now in my hands?

Photos © Tiberio Fanti

P.S. All images were taken with a "can't-remember" mobile cam.