Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cell Phone!

A few weeks ago when I was watching the award ceremony after the basketball league finals, an image I saw rankled about in my brain for days.

Basketball players from Fenerbahçe are about to receive their championship cup, surrounded by hundreds of fans. The arena is ebullient. As the cameras turn towards the spectators, you can see that almost all of the cheering fans have their phones out, trying to capture the moment when their team captain raises the cup. They are trying to live the excitement and the happiness while at the same time trying to record it.

A few days afterwards I see another image in one of the newspapers. This time it is not a moment of happiness at the focus of the lens, but a murder. When Hamas, the governing party in Palestine starts bloody events in the Gaza strip upon fears that Fatah is about to mount a coup d’etat backed by the US and Israel, a Hamas crowd lynches a Fatah leader. The battered corpse is dragged through the streets. Tens of people, some of which are probably eyewitnesses or participants in the murder, gather around pieces of the body and are “snapping pictures” with their phones.

Cell phones are used above all to record the moments we live. Not a day passes without seeing a cell phone recording of a social event, an accident, a murder broadcast on TV or published in a newspaper.

This is a new value set, one in which a visual of life creates more impact than the life itself, where living a moment is less meaningful than having recorded it.

Although this creates a positive move towards democratization of knowledge, the wheels of this world do not turn completely without a bias.

This new value set also implies a world where every kind of evil, every image of blood, murder, rape is marketed and normalized.

An example: A few days ago newspapers published photos of E.Y., a judge at the Bağcılar Court beating his wife on the street. The judge had committed suicide when his wife refused to forgive him.

What was interesting was that the photos of the beating had been taken a month ago but were just being published by newspapers, after the judge’s death. The judge had used his influence to prevent the pictures from being published. The images were recorded, they had “news value” but had not been published.

Translated by Deniz Akkuş
June 29, 2007

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