reede, detsember 23, 2005

Turning Japanese

So I bought a CD from a group called Smokey and Miho, which is a side project between Beck's guitarist Smokey Hormel, and Miho Hatori, who used to sing with Cibo Matto. I actually interviewed Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto once, and thus have had peripheral contact with Ms. Hatori. You may know her as one of the Gorillaz as well. The Japanese looking Gorilla in Gorillaz ;) Anyway, I think it's safe to say that I found Miho to be a very attractive lady and got off day dreaming about what it would be like to be involved with a Japanese woman...and then I realized - it probably wouldn't be that different from being married to an Estonian.

There's a bit of a running joke in my family that my wife is part Japanese because she is in love with taking photographs. And I don't think it's her, it's a national trait. Almost every Estonian I know has a very well documented online life - complete with blog, photo galleries etc. And they take pictures of the dumbest things. They take photos of ugly buildings and passing vehicles and the dinner they ate. And somewhere back home in Estonia, they take the photos out and show them to family members. "And this is a photo of the steak I ate in Los Angeles..." says the well-traveled Eestlane. "Oooh" the other Estonians must reply.

I wonder if there is some truth to the 19th century deeply racist theories that placed Finno-Ugric peoples in the same "yellow race" with Japanese across the Eurasian continent. I won't believe the idea that these peoples are related solely based on their love of electronics and trading digital images, but the high cheek bones sure seem to connect Peipsi and Honshu. As the non-photo person I often feel weird about this cultural obsession. I mean I like taking a few photos, but I prefer moderation. A photo here, a little camcorder there - it all comes together into a perfectly lazy mosaic of my life. I feel sort of anxious about taking 40 photos for every outing then putting them all online for the world to see.

Not my Japanese/Estonian wife. She lives to take photos and I have become an expert at downloading them and troubleshooting camera problems at her insistance. Just like her love of smoked fish, blood sausage, and recording every moment via digital camera, I take it all in stride. It's like I am an American exchange student stuck on a trip to Estonia I will never return from. All I can do is continue to learn more.

Today was the perfect example of cultural collision. My wife had an article ready for SL Ohtuleht, and they wanted photos. Being Japanese-like Estonians that meant that, like, I should have a digital camera lodged in my anus and a wireless card in my brain so I could transmit images almost instantaneously. I should be able to blink to take the photo and send it - poof! - like that. I kept that poor Estonian at Ohtuleht waiting and waiting for those photos as I rushed to get them uploaded (after some mechanical problems) in time for his deadline. I called up a girl at a photo store nearby to see if they could put the photos on a CD because my computer wasn't working. But they could only do it by tomorrow. TOMORROW!? 24 hours is like 500 years in Estonian time. So I sweet talked my way into my old office down the street and used their computer. It was a holiday party and nobody seemed to mind. Yet by virtue of my gift of gab I got the job done in time. I guess it pays sometimes to have an Italian-American by your side!


5 kommentaari:

Kaur ütles ...

Giustino, I am afraid that you have not seen the Estonian youngster's online photo albums yet. "yesterday, 21.12.2005. 100 pictures of me and my friends at mathematics lesson. 100 pictures of me and my friends in estonian lesson. 100 pictures of me and my friends at biology lesson. 100 pictures of me and my friends going home from school. 100 pictures of me and my friends at home in the evening." "today, 22.12.2005. 100 pictures of me and my friends in biology lesson. ..."

those kids do not take photos. at least they do not take them as memories, as we are used to. they DOCUMENT THEIR LIFE as it goes by, and then the show it ONLINE and AT ONCE as it IS NOW. the photos lose all their meaning next week, because they are "old", maybe some exceptional event survives half a year or more, but the intent seems to be very different than your family's picture albums. instead of "see, this was me, THEN", it is "see, this is me, NOW".

Eppppp ütles ...

First - its me who is he talking about. Japanese (Estonian) woman whom he married and bought the one way ticket to new experiences.
So, what do I think about my addiction?
I know, it really is an addiction. If I can get by a few days without it, I have some withdrawal signs first and then with every passing day I see how I can live without it.
But then something brings it up again - family event, just a good photo of someone somewhere - and I get hooked up again...

I try to be enviromnentally concious. I know taking pictures takes batterys and electricity...
But it - maybe? - nurtures one other natural resource and global treasure that we sometimes run low of... I mean human soul.
Maybe Im giving the "good childhood" experience to our child, through these photos?

Giustino ütles ...

My approach to photos is that they serve a historical purpose for the individual. They capture somebody's life at a moment for posterity.

I have many photos from my childhood but in a way I am glad there are not more. Because the rest belongs to my memory only.

But what is it like when there is a photo of you from nearly everyday of your life? What do you remember? How does it work? How do you see yourself?

It's as if the mystery of childhood is gone. Your memories may be blurry, but there are other documents around to release you from the burden of actually having to remember. It's a weird, new situation.

Kaur ütles ...

I do not think that those thousands of pictures change the way how we perceive our childhood. Most adults (in Estonia, that is) never actually see their baby pictures. I know that my mom has my childhood pictures, MANY, put away to some "safe" place. I know that my wife has many childhood pictures in a closed box on most remote shelf in our apartement. It does not matter if there are 10 or 10000 of them, they are just NEVER viewed.

But I can tell you how it feels if you have a picture of "nearly every day". It feels good :)

I just reviewed my pictures of year 2005. We have taken photographs at about 10 occasions every month (more in the summer), plus travel photos. Looking at them brings the moments back, and it really feels great. It does not kill the mystery, it remakes it. It is not the effect of a single perfect picture capturing "THE feeling" or showing you in your best outfit & haircut, it is the mundane details of everyday life that recall the happyness which you may have forgot...

Anonüümne ütles ...

I was just searching blogs and found yours.It's interesting. I'm going to bookmark you and return.

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