We spoke recently about creation, curation and consumption, and how much we do of each. Since then I’ve been thinking more around not only how much of each I engage in, but the quality or type.
And with each there is a common thread of intention.
When I was a young child, we only had three channels on TV. If you wanted to watch children’s programmes, you had to have the TV on between 330-600pm, when they were broadcast.
This was a few years before VCRs became affordable too. So you couldn’t choose what you wanted to watch, and when. You could only choose whether you had the TV on or not, and if you did, which channel. Out of the three options.
So naturally most of the time, people just watched what happened to be provided at that time by the broadcaster.
Back then it was all we knew, TV-wise, but I knew from having a Walkman and a small collection of cassettes (and taping music from the radio, usually the Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon) that I could exert far more control in what I listened to, and when.
When VCRs came along this started to happen with TV too. You could record shows without watching them at the time of broadcast, then replay at your own convenience.
You weren’t just watching whatever happened to be on the TV at the time you sat down in front of it, your selection was intentional.
I think this is the first time I started to enjoy the idea of TV – and films specifically – as a kind of event.
TV wasn’t just something to have on in the background like visual and aural wallpaper.
You decided when you wanted to watch a movie, and made an effort to make it an immersive and enjoyable experience.
To this day I really dislike not watching a film in one sitting. As I see it, films were made to get lost in, in one go, not to be broken up and snacked on, like a bar of chocolate.
I did have to make an exception recently for the four hour Zack Snyder version of Justice League, watching it in two blocks of two hours. I don’t like sitting in one place for four hours for anything.
Streaming TV is the natural evolution of VCRs and DVDs, and again we choose what we want to watch, where, when and how.
The ability to play music and video on multiple devices like TVs, tablets and phones has given us more options.
Even a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have considered watching TV on anything but the main big TV in the front room. But most of my more recent intentional TV consumption has been on my iPad.
I thought the screen would be too tiny, the sound too puny. But an iPad 30cm from your face is about the same surface area to your field of vision as a big TV three or four metres away.
Plus using decent headphones makes the experience more immersive, intimate and multi-dimensional than speakers across a room too.
In some ways this iPad and headphones set up is more engaging an experience than the big Sony in the living room.
The point is we can now be very intentional with our consumption of both TV and music.
We don’t have to be passive, mindless consumers, ingesting whatever’s put in front of us.
I think it’s no coincidence that I have a similar desire for this level of deliberate choice in how I photograph.
With TV and music, I don’t just stick the TV or radio on and watch and listen to whatever’s on. I specifically make an occasion to watch and listen, choose what I want to consume, then try to immerse myself in the experience as fully as possible.
With photography, I don’t wander around snapping blindly, or spraying my cameras on multishot modes.
I specifically choose a time and place to go on a photowalk, a camera to accompany me, and then again, try to immerse myself in this experience as fully as possible, making pictures only of scenes I’m really drawn to.
I think that being intentional is so vital to our experience of life, and how deeply and fully we allow ourselves to enjoy things.
I guess another way of describing this is being mindful. Mindful consumption and mindful creation.
How about you? How intentional and mindful is your consumption, and creation – with photography, film, music and more?
As always, please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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