Sunday, June 10, 2012

21st Century POV

I saw this on Gawker: a video of a young father and his two-year-old daughter playing hide and seek in their home. What makes this age-old game a bit unusual is that the child is wearing a head cam while she's playing:


It's pretty great stuff, if, as the Gawker poster acknowledges, also mournful in a strange way. The Gawker post links to the Wikipedia page for saudade, "a unique Galician-Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English. Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It's related to the feelings of longing, yearning."

Right up my alley. It's a fantastic thing to watch as the girl scrambles down the hallways and into and out of rooms searching for her papa, yanking aside shower curtains that tower over her, in her panting pursuit flanking walls that tower over her—in fact, everything towers over her, as is the overwhelming case when you're two. She searches, she calls out, she stumbles, she runs, she discovers her prize (hiding in a closet): it's a wonderful version of one of the many quest journeys that mark the days of our childhood, as each day offers more to explore, more to feel, less to understand. Like most kids' games (and nursery rhymes and bedtime stories) there's a bit of darkness and anxiety threatening to burst the surface of the joy.  Where's papa and what if he's gone?

What fascinates me is how technology is affecting memory. This video promises future generations something I can only fantasize about: a POV shot of life at age two! A snippet of that life, an orchestrated, chaperoned snippet at that, but still...what I can only conjure is now digitally encoded for future playback for this young girl, eventually an adult plagued with nostalgia and memory and the friction between the two. What will be interesting is how this video evidence will disconnect from what the woman will remember of this game: her father's figure; the house's layout; her perspective shaped by the years. The tensions between remembered and documented—the energy of all autobiography, perhaps of all artmaking—will be exponentially amplified in the future decades, as more and more adults, having been raised as children in video age, stumble down the surprisingly long and shadowy hallway that connects what we recall, nostalgically, bitterly, and what we recorded, hopefully, naively.

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