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Signal

August 13, 2017

Two years broadcasting

It has been two years since starting this little project. It was a few days in Berlin, two long nights in Edinburgh, a day at a cafe in Brighton, as well as a bombardment of thoughts about time passing, people moving on, and wondering about where my viewpoint fits in the world. Having spent so much time capturing perspective quite literally, I wanted to broadcast it on a platform of my own.

A taxi at an interesction.
An empty intersection.

Looking at photographs

A few months after starting the blog, I joined Instagram. I have a fair number of misgivings about it (it often feels a mini-game on its own), but honestly the premise is quite cool. The presence of instagram has allowed me to publish things quickly, even when I haven’t fully fleshed out a concept. In an ideal scenario, Instagram would be like my sketchbook, if you will. I also indulge in using it in the more conventional “social media” way of publishing updates on my life. I take no issue with that fact. At least that way, things are visually appealing.

Feedback?

The social media aspect warps the space a bit. If we stick with the premise of a sketchbook, what does a ‘like’ even mean? How much of that feedback is modulated by friendships, and how much has to do with the photography itself? Better yet, does it matter to me that it be separate, or does the mix satisfy parts of my need to broadcast a signal? I seem to have settled on the latter, but I will also admit that the usual hooks these platforms bring (‘likes’ etc.) often give me more grief than they’re worth.

Another grievance with the “mini game” is that it encourages you to offer a caption, a description of the photograph. The attention span on the platform is remarkably small (citation totally needed); the first time I saw somebody scrolling their feed and just double-tapping rhythmically, I was in awe. A caption, thus, can help capture that attention a bit longer. For the kind of sketches that make up 75% of my posts, I think it is actually good to offer notes; that’s the point! Otherwise, I find photography a remarkably humble medium, where a smart caption or a description should not be necessary (my photography teacher would scream if he saw these games). It is a habit that I’ve been trying to shed, but the platform does not make it easy.

Trees everywhere

Of course, I’m not the only person here; we all cast our signals in various ways. I have had some really good interactions online. Recently, I found that an author whose work I enjoy is also an interesting photographer, and I was able to reach out to him and thank him for one of his essays about Helsinki. I also have an assortment of ~30 people who I follow solely for their photos, often with compliments or suggestions. This kind of discovery and conscious engagement is often touted as the bright side of these media, and I the would agree.

(Much of this text reminds me of this talk by Zack Arias, so you could watch that for related topics.)

Reflection of trees

Signal Revisited

I want to try and tackle some of these misgivings. In my mind, there’s two ways I could do that:

  • Have a separate Instagram account and try to push that as a persona;
  • Lean on the blog for its strengths

The separate account is not a bad idea, but it would mean going all-in on Instagram. If there are parts of the platform that I am apprehensive about though, it doesn’t seem logical. Additionally, most of my friends seem to be leaning on it for the social aspect, and it would be quite the effort to try and compartmentalise.

The blog, on the other hand, has no semblance of ‘likes’ or algorithms. It doesn’t pretend to be popular and neither does it aspire to be. If someone goes there, it is with the intent to see things I’ve published. The lack of numbers is kind of relaxing; I publish something and cast it into the void, trusting that whomever is interested will see it.

This is not unlike what I currently do, but I would like to update the blog more regularly, with some structured collections instead of just sketches. I should also considering some kind of comment section, but that is a few ways off. Moreover, I would want to finally shed most of the description and captions, now that I have the chance!

As for meta posts, these also have a nice home here :)

Memory Full

July 26, 2017

Edinburgh's Calton Hill

How many times have I taken this photo?
How many have others?
Is it even the same?
They’re taking it now.
One more time.
Memory full.

Reflecting on a full moon

August 30, 2016

A father and a child watching over a rising red moon
A bright, orange full moon on the left, over the sea
A full moon in the center, moving, leaving a blurry streak
A full moon in the center, casting its light over a beach

In Athens

August 15, 2015

Summer 2014 saw a brief return to Athens for work. Spending more time in the city center than I normally have in the past three years, I got to take some snaps on my phone; things, places and people I found interesting. A year later, I have gone through those photos again and done my best to remaster this semi-random assortment into something coherent. So here we are, re-discovering parts of Athens I have either overlooked or forgotten, in the form of a tasting tour.

The Acropolis, viewed from a rooftop cafe
Cafe with a view; this is going to be a theme.

Old and New

Might as well start with something recognisable, such as the Acropolis. Still standing after thousands of years, it is one of the key landmarks in Athens though, in my experience, not often visited by Athenians, probably because we see it in the distance so often. Regardless, the “new museum” is a bit of a landmark itself these days, offering an interesting and polished view at the Acropolis and its history.

A crowd in Monastiraki square, with the Acropolis in the background.
Inside view of the Acropolis museum, with statues on the right and the glass frame on the left.

You can find the full Athens gallery here

Bits of Berlin

July 17, 2015

In June 2015, I got to spend a weekend in Berlin. While my time there was mostly bound to volunteering work with EYP (the European Youth Parliament), I still had some time left to wander around and find cool little spots to share. Let’s have a quick tour!

Berlin from a distance
Setting the scene.

You can find the full Berlin gallery here

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