Monday, December 24, 2018

Sepia Tone

It's an interesting post on its own, but the part at the end about the sepia tone of photographs strikes me as mild evidence for my long-standing theory that we have too-strongly associated the concept of color photography with cultural and even moral improvement.  Perhaps this is clearer in the reverse: we associate the technological primitiveness of black-and-white photography with black-and-white morality (boo, hiss), and cultural primitiveness.

We must be superior now, right?  Just look how much better we look in the photos. 

9 comments:

Donna B. said...

Of course, now we realize that morality come in at least 50 shades of grey.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Wow, I absolutely should have picked up on that when it became famous, but I never did.

DirtyJobsGuy said...

If you haven’t read “Time after Time’ by Jack Finney (he wrote Invasion of the Body Snatchers) you should. It’s set about 1960 and an advertising artist is recruited to participate in a time travel project by the government. There is no time machine, but the idea is you immerse yourself in a time period in surroundings, behavior and thought. He is to go back to the 19th century in NYC. Part of his training is to visualize the period. They do this by showing him actual items such as clothing which are old and faded. They then show him exact duplicates but new. He’s astounded by the color and vibrancy of the items. This is also true of his first actual time travel experience.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ DJG - It has been fascinating to watch the reactions of the educated and art communities to learn that many Greek statues were not white, but painted gaudy colors, and the Sistine Chapel was not properly somber and dull, as great art should be, but vibrant and even a bit garish.

Unknown said...

At one point in my youth I noticed this tendancy and for my own shorthand called it "temporal bigotry"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

CS Lewis called it "chronocentricism," if I remember correctly.

james said...

"But... how can I not be much smarter than all the ancients? After all, I have a cell phone and they didn't."

It's nice to take credit for what your tribe has accomplished, isn't it? Even if I, personally, can't tell penicillin from sulfa powder and couldn't tell you how to stamp a plastic case that would flex enough to push a mouse contact but not break within a week(*)--nevertheless, because somebody I'm sort of culturally related to can do these things, I get to pretend I'm wise.

And since there's nobody handy to argue the old pieties, the new ones win by default.

(*) I disassembled a mouse to show the grandson how it worked. I was more impressed by the engineering than he was. But then I've had the experience of making things that worked _almost_ long enough, when the hardware store was closed.

Grim said...

I’ve disassembled a few squirrels. My ancestors were doubtless better at it, though.

HMS Defiant said...

I'm looking forward to seeing 'They Shall Not Grow Old'. Colorized brought to life imagery of a war long ago.