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Monday, November 16, 2009

The wind will change and you'll stay like that

The combination of cheap digital cameras and Facebook has been responsible for a world-wide over-supply of party pictures. They're all over the internet, particularly on the social networking sites: tight groups of young people bunching together to get into frame, the telescopic arm of the person on far right indicating that there is no actual photographer, heads jammed up against each other, mouths arranged into either a parody of glee or a self-mocking pout. I note that this last has become such a staple that somebody has dedicated a website called Stop Making That Duckface to its extinction.

The pose is interesting. The few pictures I've got from the days of box Brownies and Instamatics suggest that having one's photograph taken was a moment fraught with tension. Nowadays it's gone so far the other way that few photographs are taken with even a second's thought. The whole process is a send-up. Nobody takes a simple straight-up picture in which the subjects aren't gurning and you can decipher the context in which it's taken. When this generation of twentysomethings, who must be the most photographed in the history of mankind, look back in middle age I fear they'll see what appears to be one big image, featuring nobody in particular, having fun nowhere in particular, making that funny face at nobody in particular.