Colors of Atlanta: Winter is comin’

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Winter is coming and things are slowing down considerably. Also, I have been traveling a lot recently that’s why the last two or three weeks there haven’t been any updates and I virtually did not do any photography.

In short, I think I don’t like winter. It triggers this reflective mode in me, where I contemplate the achievements and/or failures of the year. In general there is nothing wrong with reflection, and in fact, it is probably the distinctive feature of humans: the update of beliefs etc due to reflection. But there are times when a mercenary-type of mentality is required: when handed a gun, the only question is in which direction to shoot. Over-reflection raises doubts and doubts can be an expensive luxury that cannot allows be afforded. Having spent several years now in an ultra-competitive environment I came to believe that resilience is nothing else but delayed or suppressed reflection: 1) decide in which direction to go 2) walk a minimum distance into this direction (ignoring all these pesky thoughts) 3) evaluate outcome 4) repeat. A purposefully chosen myopic view simplifies so many things.

Yesterday I found some time for a quick stroll and I checked out the coffee shop / juice bar at Paris on Ponce (some shots below), which is literally a five minutes walk from my house. I really like that place, not only because of its frenchy-antique style but for more fundamental reasons. For me it represents a slower, more tangible time. It also represents one of the most fundamental mysteries to me: what is value? In an antique store the items do not derive their value from their actual physical manifestation but from their history and what they symbolize. I think the same is true for many photographers that we admire today: their work derives value from context and not from  consideration of isolated photos. That’s remarkable on many different layers. First of all, it seems to preclude the existence of an artist / photographer purely by representation of their work in the digital world at least in the traditional sense. Sure there are ‘internet-famous’ photographers but somehow this is a different world. It seems like we want some background, history, context to appreciate – it seems as if we need to relate. I think the ‘Vivian Maier” phenomenon is a good case in point: her work is definitely remarkable but large amounts of the attention arises from speculations about her life and motives. Taking a contrarian view one now needs to ask whether the internet / digital world (I equate those for all practical purposes) is capable of producing lasting work of impact. There are many viral campaign, videos, etc. however they tend to disappear as fast as they came and usually leave nothing but a faint memory behind. Things get replaced before they cool down enough to establish long-term impact. The careful reader will now interject that many artists fueled and multiplied their success by means of the internet. This is definitely true, however the important point is that these artists have a representation in the analog (aka real) world. They give live gigs and concerts, they have a real fan base: they exists in atoms, not just bits.

Assuming that value is the cost of replacement / replication and given that digital goods can be produced at a very low price point, this leaves me thinking: 

Is it true that digital goods have little to no value? 

Obviously this can be only be true in a broader sense. Peter Thiel nicely phrased this in 0 to 1: in the digital world it is the 0 to 1 that is the hard one. From one to n comes essentially for free. Maybe the difference can be understood as in the digital world everything is a consumption commodity and after consumption the residual value is essentially 0: how often do you revisit a previously read article etc?

Have a great thanksgiving week — TSJ.

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