It's one of the most difficult questions asked of us in virtually everything we do. Beyond the need to make a living and support ourselves and families, why do we work in the fields we've chosen? Why do we choose our friends, our life partners? Why do we choose the products we buy and political parties we support (these days, they're kind of the same)? What are the implications for us all facing a series of existential crises like climate change, political anarchy and hyper economic wealth disparities? Can't we all seem to get a long?
For writers, photographers and gadflies like me, the questions are persistent. Who needs another blog post or bloviating opinion? From a photographic standpoint, why trip the shutter at that particular moment? Why choose to emphasize a particular person in a crowd as opposed to someone else? Why choose color instead of black and white? Why make photographs at all? Certainly, a quick flip through Flickr or Instagram will tell you that the world doesn't need more photos. The question of "why" is bottomless, particularly in a post-factual, image-saturated narcissistic world.
By profession, I'm a strategist helping companies, both for-profit and non-profit, navigate radical change. For more years than I'm going to admit, I've lived at the razor's edge of the most profound period of transformation in human history since the Industrial Revolution. As a "digital immigrant," I remember three TV networks and the "clicker." On my desk at my first job as a journalist was an IBM Selectric and carbon paper. Magazine type was set, put down on with wax and edited with X-Acto blades. My first mobile phone made Maxwell Smart's shoe phone seem petite. I shot bricks of Tri-X with a Nikon F2.
The journey from quaint analog to genomics and emerging A/I and Augmented Reality defines my life path. I've been personally digitized not out of jobs, but out of professions. At least three, to be precise. So I'm fascinated -- no, to be more accurate -- obsessed with trying to make sense of this consequential period of time. Welcome to the Anthroposeen.
All of this is driving what I'm choosing to document these days. Like many others, I'm overwhelmed by digital overload, and crave the ritual simplicity and handmade authenticity of less technologically infected cultures and experiences. I'm not alone in that, given the explosion of "adventure" travel and the crush of tourists in previously undisturbed places like the Mekong in Laos (ok, I'm guilty of Bourdain envy). At the same time, I'm drawn to understanding the impact of the infusion of universal digital culture into every nook and cranny of our conscious lives. And when those two things cross in our politics or in places like New Orleans, Southeast Asia or Istanbul, the compulsion to document is overwhelming. To capture an era that will clearly pass, as well as trying to understand the tensions of what is and what will be.
So this space will be an attempt to work through at least some of the "why." And it might very well become a place to rage when circumstances dictate. Given the current state of affairs, probably more rage than commentary. Stay tuned.