quarta-feira, dezembro 09, 2009

Digital Era

Relatively to performing a certain activity, the basic difference between being an amateur and being a professional is in the fact that the first is paid and the second is not. Except for rare exceptions, in order to be worthy of payment, a professional must do a job with recognized value. One does not need to be an expert in microeconomics in order to understand that a better final product will be more expensive and consequently the better the professional the more expensive it will be. Consequently, only a minority of individuals can normally afford professional hands of excellence in performing portrayals or artistic representations that may satisfy basic needs of grandiosely perpetuating likeness into eternity. Contrary to painting or drawing, where years of learning and study are essential to achieve the minimum requirements to do a satisfactory job in that field, photography contains within its technique the illusion that you only need to press o button.
Due to its relative low costs, the appearance of photography in the 19th century was an enormous revolution in the Western World. In this context, the appearance of the carte-de-visite, a type of pocket fitting photography, patented in Paris in 1854 by the photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, became extremely popular in Europe among the middle class as a way of owning portraits that not only could be easily shown, but also easily offered. However, a third-party professional or semi-professional service was needed in order to own a desired portrait.
The ability to own a photographic camera represented another change through several periods of the 20th century. But still, the elaboration of a good image with photography requires knowledge that goes beyond the simplicity of pushing a button. Also here, time for practice and money to spend in equipment are required to do a good job and mainly to do it professionally. The recent appearance of a digital era in photography dramatically changed this scene.
Nowadays, several pictures can be taken rapidly in an attitude of trial and error with zero expenses and a negligible amount of time in printing. In addition, the use of digital photography computer software allows the production of pictures resembling high quality work previously undertaken by professionals or even resembling paintings. Consequently, being today a professional in portraying likeness also requires revolutionary creative talents that go beyond technical training, that are of the order of the artistic talent. Associated to the reality of Internet, these revolutionary events have created the possibility of anyone with a computer to offer to billions within a globalized world the new carte-de-visite as a post in a website. This banal situation of photographic sharing through the Internet has been exposing citizens from different and even distant countries to an exchange of visual information relatively to the likeness of cultures, communities, celebrities and other social aspects. This globalization of likeness makes of each one of the intervenient a vector of information, but not journalists, historians or anthropologists because these activities require more reflection than simply the recording of images and present deontological codes that require a long time to achieve and use in professional practice. The passion of amateurs is not enough to satisfactorily perform any of these activities. One can say that, in this period of acceleration of History, the digital era has generated a vastness of work material for professional artists, journalists and social scientists, new work in all senses.

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