Something I have been thinking about during my travels is about photography and art. I have been pondering whether or not technology has dimmed some of our creative talents. I believe that we are all born artists but that it is drummed out of us throughout our childhood as we grow up. This has been exacerbated by the relatively cheap entry models into the world of digital cameras and the standard of modern camera phones, phablets etc, it has never been easier to be distracted. This boom in technology has stolen from us one of our greatest requirements for creativity – boredom.
Comedian, Aaron Barschak, once said that all you need for creativity is a certain level of boredom, and some alcohol. The latter we have plenty of but with the technological advancements at our disposal, I wonder if we are no longer able to feel bored?
Even now I am sat on the train, on my phone, writing this blog, along with a hundred other souls all plugged into their multi-functional devices. Okay I might be creating something right now by writing this blog, or surfing the news for something of interest but, like many others, I am not ‘bored’ but distracted. If it were not for our phones, kindles and phablets, would we be instead gazing out of the train window and imagining a song or poem, inspired by the sweeping landscapes that turn to urban industrial sprawl? I don’t know, maybe not, but the opportunity is taken from us by our reliance on technology to distract us.
I’ve been thinking about this distraction culture a lot, more so since I started my Peasant Life UK project back in September 2014. I went around the UK for several weeks, taking photographs of people living on the streets, people often ignored or forgotten by the public. On my journey I found myself talking to more people than I took pictures of and it was that human connection I found they valued more than a pound in their cup. To look beyond the lens and draw closer to the people who made up my compositions, made for a much more enriching experience than merely freezing a moment in time.
This makes me wonder what role our cameras and camera phones have played in eliminating our boredom and thus taking away our creativity.
Go to any landmark or monument in the world and you will see hordes of people with their phones or latest Gucci DSLR, snapping that ‘selfie’ moment, or recreating that silhouette or perspective photo they saw on Instagram. We are capable of so much more. Instead of pointing our devices at the sails of the Opera house, or gazing up at the towers and monuments, erected to inspire us and freezing them in a moment, we should take a moment and be inspired – to allow ourselves the time to get bored. Travel is about inspiration and with it has come great art but without boredom, what chance for it to arrive?
Is boredom a catalyst for creativity, I don’t know but I guess I should practice what I preach and for the time being, put down my tech, and allow boredom to set in – listen to the sounds of the streets I walk, the trains I ride and see what happens. I might have a sonnet or drawing inside me waiting to be released and so might you.