Archive for July, 2010

..:: What I am listening too while writing this post: “Beneath the Rose”, Micah P Hinson::..

David Miklos (San Antonio, Texas, 1970), is one of the leading Mexican writers of his generation. He is the author of a trilogy (La piel muerta, La gente extraña and La hermana falsa) in which he explores the nature of origin and family, of the biological and emotional ties that bound us together. His stories dig deep into the mysteries of kin, of the umbilical chords that we lay between us, from us, among us. The themes that circumnavigate Miklos’ canon can be traced back to his own life story: he was born in San Antonio, Texas, and was adopted into a Jewish Mexican family immediately after being born.

Miklos, now 40, recently became a father for the first time (of a beautiful, healthy girl, Anna). One can’t help to wonder how profound an effect this must have had both in his general outcome of life, and in his approach for that topic –kin– that has permeated his literary endeavors.

Miklos, a good photographer as well, has documented his daughter’s life thoroughly, right from his partner’s pregnancy. Through Flickr, he uploads a photo of Anna (or several), every day. It is breathtaking too see her daily development, how her face suddenly reveals pure human emotions: wonder, joy and even a slight, precious melancholy. Anna is one of the first babies of what we might call the Flickr generation: they will have a reliable, vast archive of their past and will, at a click’s distance, access a photo album broader that anyone else’s. Flickr and other applications have transformed photography not only as a form of artistic expression,but also in how we document and experience our lives. What sort of cognitive changes will Anna go through by being to able to access a well organized database of her development as a human being? Other issues concerning privacy will arise when Anna and other Flickr babies are old enough to determine whether they still want their pictures to be online or not. To the pictures that their parents upload, we can add dozens and maybe even hundreds of images captured by other family members, friends or institutions (for medical records, passports and other forms of identification). With the advent of digital photography, how many captures of a person will there exist when this person reaches adulthood?

David and Anna Miklos

Digital photography could, in fact, change the way in which we configure visual memory. I remember my childhood only through distant, blurry memories and a few photographs scattered here and there through dusty photo albums (their colors have vanished, some of them reveal but a ghostly image of myself). Some strangers appear on those photographs: unknown men and women pinching my cheeks and laughing as I wear a pirate costume or chase a soccer ball. Who are these people? In a few years, Anna will readily identify (through her dad’s meticulous tagging) uncle so and so, friend so and so, and relive (recreate) memories through her lifelong pictorial. Through geo-tagging, she will also know where she was at an specific day of her childhood. Memory as a database. Memory everlasting. If, like David Miklos’ novels, literature and other arts draw from our reconstructions of times bygone, how will creativity be transformed when artists can access vivid databases that will provide them with specifics of their past?

Anna’s Flickr images might prove to be the best gift a dad can give to his precious little girl, after all.

For ARIN6903, Exploring Digital Cultures, The University of Sydney (Master in Digital Communication and Culture).