Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Reality of Photography: DJ in the 2012 Tour

Hollywood has been around for about 100 years, as of this writing.

Many stars have had their pictures taken, been on film, been glamorized.  Many have been heavily documented throughout their lives.  Take Elizabeth Taylor.  We have pictures of her from when she was a little girl playing with horses, through all of her Cleopatra Salad Days, her marriages and divorces, alcoholic hazes and recovery periods.  The 20th century was the first in which we could watch a person age through most of their lifespan by flipping through a series of pictures.

The 21st Century is about watching ourselves being thoroughly documented daily by pictures on Facebook, on our iPhones and millions of images we will never see. captured by security cameras.

For those people (like me) who began watching the Monkees' TV show at a very young age, there is an odd sense of permanence to the young bodies of those 20 year olds, bouncing around on the screen.

As they did on tour in the 60's, the 2012 tour had huge screens projecting images from the show.  In 2012, however, these ghosts seemed equally as alive as the performers onstage.  Something akin to the "primitive" peoples' idea of a camera stealing your soul as well as your image.  Except it comes off in a beneficent way; a picture preserving a soul, retaining all its beauty and innocence.

It worked in terms of Davy Jones.  He was there, as part of the performance.  Not in a hokey way, or as a sad vague way of paying respect.  There he was dancing to "Daddy's Song", flipping back and forth among the black and white versions.   I had seen him the year before, matching his shadow in the video, move for move. A man of 67 as agile as he was at 21.  And here he was in 2012, still performing on screen.  Flipping back and forth in our collective memories between this world and the next.

Everyone in the audience consciously knew he wasn't alive anymore.  We had his Voice and Image, and in a funny way, his Energy (for lack of a better term).  Watching the TV Show, that is what most of the relationship is made up of anyway.  So maybe there was no difference that his physical body did not exist on earth any longer.

Is it possible to manufacture a Ghost?  All of the artifacts would suggest that is all that there is: a record of his face on film and on posters and t-shirts and buttons.

What is the word for what happens after all that stuff is put out into the world and it still has emotional resonance for millions?  I don't mean to suggest idol worship or anything blasphemous against any religion.

Just the mere fact that a very human man can exist & his spirit conjured up (again, no literal voodoo here) after his actual death.  He can be honored as an elder who has passed on, yet still exist in his most familiar form.

There is a phrase engraved in stone at the entrance to a cemetery: "To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die."

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