December 4, 2007 - Eric Ford-Holevinski
THE SPANISH STEPS NEIGHBORHOOD
SAN GIOVANNI CHURCH
ABOUT THE PICTURES
Gallery updated 5/04/2009.
I only had five days in the city I once lived in for a year. It rained for two days, and was overcast for at least one more.
I have my own favorite places to see and things to do in Rome, as anyone would for any city, and I concentrated on the things I miss most or liked best. It was a little sad seeing all these places as a tourist when, at one time, I could see them whenever I wanted. I miss wandering around Rome and finding new things.
In the shot inside St. Peter's of the line of snapshooters, the statue in the background is Michelangelo's Pietà, one of the greatest works of art in history. Do people look at art anymore? No. Instead, they approach holding out their toy camera or camcorder like it's a pistol, shoot it, and move on. I've been noticing this with increasing ire over the years. It's one thing in a natural history museum or a zoo, but in art museums, the thoughtless snapshooting hits a nerve for me. Art is meant to be looked at, slowly, with not only your eyes but the jello behind them too. Art was not made to be viewed on a 2.5" LCD screen, then in a blurry, noisy JPEG file on your computer sometime later (probably never). Statues in particular are meant to be viewed in 3-D (read: live). That's why they're sculptures and not paintings.
So why, oh why, do people come halfway across the world to see one of the most important sculptures ever, and then do nothing more than snap a photo of it? (For the record, I did not take a picture of that sculpture myself.) The Pietà, when viewed in person, makes you feel. It seems to sweat emotional power into the air around it, so that the closer you look, the more you're right there with Mary, holding her dead son. As I stood in front of the glass staring at it, remembering the first time I saw it over two years ago, I turned with horror to see a woman walk up to the glass staring into her LCD screen, take her shot, and walk away. She never looked at the statue. That's when I decided to take a photo of people taking photos. I knew what I wanted: an obvious line of 3 or more people all holding out their cameras mindlessly. I got into position, and didn't have to wait even 30 seconds for what I was looking for. Pretty sad.
It's become very easy these days to take pictures. Cameras are cheap and the film, so to speak, is unlimited. The curse of this technology, though, is that people feel they need a picture of everything, or that a picture is "good enough" to substitute for having taken the time to experience something for real when they had the chance. At MoMA people take pictures of all the paintings, even though they could buy a print that would look far better, and save them the trouble of coming to the actual museum, or across an ocean or continent to that city.
Maybe this sounds hypocritical of me, given that I'm writing this at the end of a "my vacation" gallery. But I promise that everything I shot for this page was something I saw, and lived, before I shot.
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All work © 2007 Eric Ford-Holevinski