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In the essay In Plato’s Cave, Susan Sontag makes a point of illustrating how in the moment a photographic image is captured its subject becomes ephemeral. Unable to interact with the world from behind a two-dimensional plane, the subject is forever frozen eliminating all agency that would exist within the frame of time that it takes the camera’s shutter to open and close. This agency death is then repeated each time the image is reproduced, multiplying the silence of the subject exponentially with each new viewer.
Thanks to Instagram we don’t have to worry about this! Any morsel of agency we may have had left over was required upon sign up. No more hassle over trying to remember, no more first impressions, no more thinking about which dreams to pursue: Facebook, Google, Apple (ie. gods of the new world) have it all covered. Our new gods have no use for prayer or wishes, just living within the world that they oh-so benevolently created for us is enough payment, as long as they get to watch. In exchange there are no more questions, every thought every desire has an answer or at least a facsimile close enough to satiate anyone looking. The best part? Here we can never die. Time can only be expressed through image, and as Ms. Sontag taught us, images never die.
Flowers do though. Its rare to see a flower alive. Only weeds that blossom are allowed to stay living in the old world. Beauty must be removed, removed and confined in our old rooms, in our old houses so that when we stumble across their slowly decaying bodies we might feel beautiful too. Their appearance is temporal just as mine used to be, if only we had taken more pictures.
i am beautiful. i know because i like me. My friends like me. Sometimes up to 30 people like me! And this is all proof that i am beautiful. You should like me too. i’m not fake, everything i do is proof, every moment is evidentiary, and each action i take becomes an image. These images are liked and shared. Though, in the old world i might have had doubt over the validity that a button push can lend, i no longer have use of doubt as only data exists here and data is truth.
Data is truth and truth didn’t exist in the old world. There everything degraded and slowly fell apart. Truth can’t be undeniable if it changes, this was the fault of our past lives. Nothing was real as everything faded. Even images of our past selfs would fade or alter the color of their evidentiary memories if left to their own devices. This was the tragedy of flowers. They could be touched and smelled and created; yet, they always would leave and once gone what was there to prove that they existed in the first place?
i no longer worry about tragedy. Tragedy, sorrow, pain, lust all have become treats. Morsels of information that can be created to supply the hunger of my friends. Emotions do have their place in our new homes, they are the pictures we hang on our walls, the created slice of life that we serve to those kind enough to visit. i hope my tragedies are popular ones, followed by data from sources i’ll never know. i hope that the content that makes me means something to those who’s content means more.
We had no meaning before. Gods were stories with now power to control or shape the worlds that they supposedly created. There was a constant questioning of seeing and of meaning. The attempt to make sense of a system without any inherent structure cost time and wreaked havoc on our temporal forms. The inhabitants of beauty and entertainment changed and hid, slowly being forgotten as traces of their perfect selves slowly erased itself from consciousness. Then, no one had meaning.
Now i have many meanings. i mean information, i mean internet, i mean brand. i hope you see my content. i hope you see me. i hope i never die.
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Fitzpatrick, Daphne C., "Dead Flowers // i" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 262.