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Reading Reflections!

Reading: Susan Sontag, In Plato's Cave
from the book: On Photography

Due: 9/16/22

People use media as a way to escape from reality. Through a glance, a person can escape from this reality to see something that is out of the ordinary for them. Photography can depict the imaginary, the past, and even a peek into someone else’s perspectives. Susan Sontag describes photographs as “miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire” (pg.4). Just like many people look at other people’s content to get outside of their world, people create content to share their own perspectives and experiences with others. But just because, the purpose of creating media is to share one’s point of view and image, it doesn’t mean it is an accurate depiction of that person’s life.

A great example of this is the use of social media. In today’s society, we are living in a world of escapism. As Sontag states, “…picture-taking is an event in itself…The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time consists of interesting events, events worth photographing,”(pg.11). Those in today’s generation are living with FOMO ( the fear of missing out) and constant stimulation, and this especially is shown in the constant desire to share one’s life events, stay up to date with the “lives” of others, and find ways to divert their attention to something that invokes positive or new emotions. There is constant pressure to self-express in this society because everyone else is doing it. “Photography is not practiced by most people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power,”(pg.8).

Personally, I also create images as a way to escape reality. Taking images is a way of getting involved with my reality, a way to keep myself engaged. I can admit that I also have the same habit of manipulating what I create as other creators do. As Sontag explains, “Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience…photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects” (Pg.6). This desire to create something visually pleasing dictates most of what I create, it also dictates the lives of those in this generation. I often have the goal of enjoying the process of what I create, and successfully creating something that I’m proud of— even if it’s a distortion of reality.

In conclusion, nothing is real. And there is no true way to accurately represent our world at this moment, except for what we already have that shows how truly biased and manipulated everything in our world is.

Xaviera Simmons: Crisis Makes a Book Club (Queens Museum)

In Xaviera Simmons’ Crisis Makes a Book Club exhibition, Simmons touches on the topics of capitalism and white supremacy— and how both of them can be highly misunderstood by the majority of the population, especially in the U.S. I was able to make this connection through two parts of Simmon’s exhibition. The first I saw from Simmons was the questions she had conjured related to the Queens Museum Cultural Food Pantry.

One of the questions Simmons had prepared was: “Many Americans do not understand the mechanism and impacts of capitalism. What is your definition of capitalism?” This specific question caught my attention since capitalism is a topic that is often talked about yet it’s one that people may not know what it is. Personally, I don’t believe I fully understand what capitalism is, means, or its impacts—but I do have some ideas (which may even be biased). For this section of Simmon’s exhibition, there were apparently supposed to be answers to these questions, but it seems like answers were not yet available when I visited. It would’ve been interesting to read different responses and learn about different views—especially between different economic backgrounds.

Another part of Simmons’ exhibition that captured my attention, was the big black installation filled with white uppercase letters. Within the writing, it was emphasized the idea of white supremacy and how other groups–like blacks–had to adopt certain habits and lifestyles to either fit in or benefit the group that is claiming superiority. “Powerful people the world has ever seen and how did they get that way by deciding that they were white by opting for safety instead of life…By persuading themselves that a black childs life meant nothing compared with a white childs life by abandoning their children to the things white men can buy…” This part of the writing reminded me of slavery and the times where blacks had to serve whites.

Reading: Graphic Novel: Motherhood in crisis

by: Laurence Ivil, Alicia Prager and Saidu Bah

Heela: The schoolgirl, ‘My stolen future’

Out of the four motherhood stories, Heela's narrative seemed to be the most impactful, especially as a reader who is around a similar age. In a comic format, the story was able to come across more clearly rather than if it was just an article or an informational video. Using illustrations, these narratives can be understood by a wider audience and hence create a deeper influence on the readers. It was almost as if the reader was there with the narrator. The story was described through illustrations, but the people involved in the health centers mentioned were introduced towards the end through video and photographs. I found illustration to be a great way to keep the narrator’s identity anonymous, while still keeping the authenticity of the story. The text was able to successfully mix storytelling with being informative.

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Article: Workers in the Global South are making a living playing the blockchain game Axie Infinity

Initially, playing games to earn money would sound too good to be true, but RK Secretario proved that it was possible. Axie Infinity, the game Secretario plays, is a blockchain game where players “collect, train, battle, and sell Axies.” The game seems to have a similar structure and objective to Pokemon Go, except players earn real-life currency. During the pandemic, RK Secretario could no longer sell rice feed due to lockdown restrictions, and became worried about how to support his 82-year-old grandma and himself. The game had given him hope, since he was able to stay safe at home, enjoy what he was doing and still earn money.

If I had found myself in this situation, I would also want to seize the opportunity —which is unstandable why many people would like to take part in this game. The fact that if the game were to shut down and the player wouldn’t lose anything, adds to the benefit of the game. It makes the game to seem like a safer (and funner) option to gain cryptocurrency instead of investing (and risking money) from the the beginning. RK’s Secratory’s narrative was a successful one since he was able to not only support his grandma and himself, but also his community by running charity events.

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