We all know how digital images are embedded in our everyday culture through news sources, social media, and photo albums (digital or print). Whether we’re conscious of it or not, digital photography can make you think about the world from another person’s perspective. Lately, I’ve been reading Jonathan Lipkin’s book, Photography Reborn: Image Making in the Digital Era (Abrams Studio) (contains affiliate link). Lipkin’s book addresses how digital photography has changed the way see images. He asks readers to take a look at photographers who are “pushing the medium’s boundaries.” Although the book was published in 2005, many of his points are still very relevant today.
Our professor asked us to choose our next digital assignment, tackling one of Lipkin’s ideas, the technological sublime or the enchanted landscape. For the technologically advanced person, the idea of technological sublime addresses the way the photographer wants you to think about how technology effects our lives. I’ve already lightly touched upon that topic with my own version in the iPhone Dilemma piece.
For this assignment, I wanted to further explore the enchanted landscape. Before digital photography, analog photographers had limited capabilities to take on a surrealist perspective. There have been occasions when a photographer would burn and dodge 30 images into one magnificent image, but the time and resources to create that one image could be reproduced only once. Imagine trying to reproduce it again and again.
When I think of the enchanted landscape, I think of images that transport you to another place, another time or space that is beyond our current reality. Sometimes those thoughts take me to places I wish our family could travel, and I immediately thought of an IMAX movie about the monarch butterfly migratory patterns to Mexico. As we sat inside the IMAX theater dome in surround sound, it helped to recreate that feeling of thousands of butterflies at the biosphere reserve in Mexico, almost as if you were there.
But it was virtual.
This image is also virtual. The colorful movement of hundreds of paper butterflies simulated the feel and moment of seeing a beautiful creation in one location.
After reading Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide) (contains affiliate link), I found that it’s not easy to travel there. According Lonely Planet, November to April (particularly February to March) is the best time to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which means we could go and see it now. However, you have to travel by foot. Thus, I can’t imagine we’d be able to take our young children to see this magnificent site.
What I love about this image is that it shows how we are interconnected by our environment. Monarch butterflies live part of the year in the Great Lakes region (such as Michigan) and then travel thousands of miles to Mexico every year. When spring arrives, they make their trek back to the Great Lakes region.
We live in a world where we tend to think about what divides us – national borders, languages, and culture. But these little creatures do not care about border control, language barriers, or cultural differences. They travel freely and roam up and down the North American continent. Perhaps this image can serve as a reminder to let go of the things that divide us and look forward to the things that unite us.
I think this image will have to do for now. Maybe when the kids are older, we’ll get the opportunity to see the monarch butterflies in person. And maybe I won’t take a photograph. I’ll just stand and watch the beauty enfold around me.
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From my hometown to yours,