Why Does Photography Exist?
There are a few things that I think will always puzzle me about humans. Really, you people fascinate me. As much as I razz on the guy, I think that History Geek is probably one of your best ambassadors to the Descendants of Dinosaurs (us birds for those of you who haven’t been following along). He’s tried to explain some of your stranger behaviors to me and — in some cases — has done a fairly good job. However, there’s one thing that makes me both wonder and appreciate humanity and that is our shared love of photography.
A random question I find myself asking frequently is “Why does photography even exist?” Why the obsession before the Industrial Revolution was even under way with figuring out how to permanently capture images? Humans have been creating images to decorate their homes and their religious centers since you guys figured out how to make colored mud. Just check out the caves where your ancestors lived. They’re filled with paintings of hands, of stylized animals, and of symbols. I wonder, sometimes, if your Paleolithic forebears had had cameras, if they would still have created the cave paintings.
Still, it’s true that humans have long been obsessed with capturing the image of a particular moment. Humans are uniquely visual like that — no one ever talks about capturing the smells of a moment or the taste and feel of a moment except in the most metaphorical of manners. But, everyone nowadays has a camera with them just about all of the time.
What is it about the visual effects of a moment that so appeals to you? Why do so many of your artworks — paintings, sculptures, tapestries — depict events and people? Why does photography even exist? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be posting my thoughts in a few days.
— da Bird