I received many emails about this last week – some discouraging, others uplifting – all reminding me of the beauty and freedom surrounding our voices. And nestled smack dab in the middle of the many voices landing in my inbox was the work of Giorgio Barrera, a Milan-based photographer that, today, I have learned much from.
Giorgio started photographing staged photos of neighbors in 2002, roughly one year after I started blogging. He writes, “I’ve always taken the role of the viewer because he/she is the real receiver of the image… it is important to me to leave the viewer with the feeling that he himself is the one looking through his own eyes, with no mediation, and this impression of enjoying a privileged, protected position results in identification with the situation.”
The parallels between Giorgio’s series and modern day blogs are many. Hidden amidst Twitter feeds and Instagram grids are painted portraits of ourselves, largely undeveloped images of the people we claim to be. The result? We identify with each other, but only in part, piecing together a larger puzzle with only a few pixels to work from.
And then we find ourselves starting conversations with “I read somewhere” and “I know someone who” and – just like that – the world is smaller. Our windows become doors to walk into – to sit down at the kitchen table, read the paper and grab a muffin from the countertop as if we’ve been here all along.
Other times, our windows become doors to walk out of, trudging slowly with heavy-laced, mud-caked boots through the bedroom and then the hallway and finally the front porch, where we leave behind the footprints and run straight out into the fields ahead.
Yet in our hands, we bring our multi-dimensional history and opinions and experiences – our windows and doors – ones that simply cannot translate through the confines of a flat screen. Words are sensory. They are meant to be felt and listened and stumbled over, preferably over the dinner table and in coffee shops, on road trips and on walks. In real life.
I cannot wipe the tears from your avatar or hear the tremble of your voice’s keyboard. You cannot see past the keyhole of my filtered Instagram photos and edited words. The Internet is in the business of slivers: cropped images and clickable headlines and truncated word counts. But humans? We bring baggage. And it seems there is no great place to store our suitcases, is there?
Even still, we must try. We must peer through windows, standing on our tiptoes with cupped hands and wide eyes, hoping to learn something about the souls that reside elsewhere. To find something familiar to latch onto, or perhaps to learn something so far from what we know that it sits deep within us, forcing us to tuck it into our suitcase to carry onto the next adventure.
Friends and readers, thank you for opening my window – and in turn – your door. I am grateful to be forever learning from you.
Image Credits: Giorgio Barrera
p.s. Why I blog.