They Don’t See the Barn

In my video production class, we watch a variety of films to study the art of film-making.

I’ve enjoyed them all well enough. Some have incredible sound-editing, or giving a story meaning where there doesn’t seem to be one.

This past weekend we had to watch a documentary called Samsara.

Unlike most documentaries, Samsara does not have a voice over. It is entirely visual.

The sound-editing is amazing. Between the score and the sound from the clips, its all seamlessly edited that the transitions are flawless.

If you Google the definition of Samsara its a noun from Hindu and Buddhist origins. Its all about the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.

Some of the most famous stock photo locations are shown throughout the film. Along with what those stock photos and post cards don’t show you: poverty and daily life in those places.

As I watched I was struck with a reminder of a scene from Don Delilo’s White Noise that I’m reading for my Lit Theory class. Its one of the most iconic scenes from the book in which the character Murray is studying people looking at “The Most Photographed Barn in America.” As Murray is studying the people looking at the barn, and the atmosphere of the little lookout he remarks, “We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura.”

And Samsara made me think about things that are turned into a commodities. Exotic places to experience are being captured with selfie sticks. Concerts are being watched through Snapchat.

We’re maintaining some grand illusion that’s been sold to us through postcards, stock photos, and Instagram. These images have been manufactured for us to consume like George Foreman grill’s and iPads.

Do we ever get to truly experience something first hand?

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