Reflection: ‘Square Mile’ from Photography 1: Expressing Your Vision
If you’ve completed the assignment ‘Square Mile’ from Photography 1: Expressing Your Vision, you might like to think back and reflect on what your ‘square mile’ means to you.
I have previously completed the assignment ‘Square Mile’ (https://oca513273.wordpress.com/). The ‘Square Mile’ means ‘home’ but not in a sentimental way – for example if in changed circumstances I had to move with my immediate family to another area I would do so. Within the area where I live is contained signs of the past in the form of historic buildings where history is measured in centuries as well as decades. For example there is church dating from the 1500s and an area that in my memory was a village centre that is now ‘bypassed’ to become something quaint, but not lived in. My sense of place is not allied too strongly to sentiment or a strong sense of community because my extended family and friend mostly live outside this, my local area or Square Mile.
Reading from the ascribed list for Photography 1: Identity and Place I came across an idea of place and the individual that I had not considered before. This derives from communications technology such that it is no longer necessary to be physically present to be in a place in order to be ‘there’. Thus:
The media offer access to settings with which the individual may never personally come into contact; but at the same time some boundaries between settings that were previously separate are overcome. …the media, especially the electronic media, alter the ‘situational geography’ of social life: ‘More and more media make us “direct” audiences to performances that happen in other places and give us access to audiences that are not “physically present”’ As a result, the traditional connection between ‘physical setting’ and ‘social situation’ has become undermined; mediated social situations construct new communities – and differences – between preconstituted forms of social experience (Giddens, 1991: 84).
The above was written in 1991 and the phenomenon identifies has grown and intensified in the intervening twenty-six years with the almost universal use of the smart-phone. An image that was (wrongly) viewed as showing this absence of the individual from the real place is shown in Figure 1. Despite its misinterpretation (see Molloy, 2016 for details) the image is interesting for its juxtaposition of a strong real place with a virtual ‘place’.
My sense of place is grounded in the real perhaps because as a consequence of my age I’m a late comer to the virtual world. The image of van der Wal (above) was noteworthy because the children in the photograph would have never known a world not augmented by the virtual. Is it something to mourn or celebrate that for such children the local (or real) ‘Square Mile’ may be destined to be a dull, uninteresting or even emotionally barren place? As mentioned above my age means that I am unlikely ever to experiences such changes to the ‘situational geography’ (Giddens, above) of my social life.
Giddens, Anthony (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the late Modern Age. Oxford: Polity Press
Molloy, Mark (2016) ‘The real story behind a viral Rembrandt ‘kids on phones’ photo’ In: The Telegraph [online] At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/12103150/Rembrandt-The-Night-Watch-The-real-story-behind-the-kids-on-phones-photo.html (Accessed on 18.04.17)
Figure 1. van der Wal, Gijsbert (2016) Untitled. At: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03551/Rijksmuseum_27_nov_3551156b.jpg (Accessed on 18.04.17)