Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not quite what I was going for...but I like it!

As I started going through the pictures that I have taken so far on this trip, I realized that most of the time what I was actually trying to show didn't exactly work, but was replaced with a completely unexpected, but often better story that I had missed the first time through.

I this picture, I thought it would be a great way to show the landscape through the door but give it the context of being on a farm.  However, I feel like it actually speaks wonders to the interesting combination of modern farm tools and, for those of us living in the United States, more outdated construction.  The shadow falls over the modern and further highlights the building and scenery which gives more importance to the history and setting than the lawnmower.

This picture at first had disappointed me when I pulled it up on my computer.  I thought weird lighting had ruined it.  However, when you put it in the context of its location, it actually has more meaning than I probably could have planned.  This is from a Jesuit cathedral in downtown Cordoba.  The Jesuits used lifelike images to help with their efforts to convert the indigenous people to Christianity.  This picture gives the painting an almost lifelike quality that I think the original creators would have appreciated.

The other pictures, I feel, have a little bit less of a hidden meaning within them.  This, however, isn't necessarily a bad thing.  You don't need to always fill everything with so much symbolism that it takes explaining for someone else to be able to understand and appreciate it.

This picture of a man with his guitar captures a pure joy.  It doesn't show what's causing him to smile, simply that he's enjoying that moment of his life with all of his heart.

The pictures of the cow and the farmer milking the cow both capture the personalities of the individuals in the picture.  My favorite aspects are the glint in the cow's eye and the face expression on the farmer.  The personalities are the focus and there isn't really anything else included in the frame.

While not exactly what I had in mind for any of these pictures, I love what they capture and share.  Pictures should share a story--and I hope these to do others than just me!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Tropos of Argentine Internet

I had written my entire blog and was proofreading it when BAM the power went out and deleted everything.  Therefore the fact that this blog won't be completed until tomorrow speaks wonders to the culture here.

Something's not done on time?  Oh well, just leave it for tomorrow.

The power went out and messed up the internet and your blog post?  Don't be upset, just make some tea and wait for it to fix itself (since blogs can do that...)

You had spent how much time picking out which pictures and descriptions to use?  Over an hour because you couldn't choose?  You probably need to eat something sweet to calm down while we wait for the power (that is now off again) to come back on.

Yes, this photo-less blog that was written quickly to hopefully avoid another power outage speaks wonders.  There will be pictures and a real blog post written from a more reliable location tomorrow morning.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where do you draw the line?

This week, I've realized that taking pictures is an interesting process.  Usually the point pictures is to remember you wonderful experiences.  However, when trying hard to take a "perfect picture" it becomes easy to focus on picture taking and not living.  This has been a challenge for me to balance as we've had our new experiences over the past week.  Here are some of my best shots (and what I was trying to do!).

This is pretty self-explanatory, a close up on the face of a cow.

Our entertainer for our asado (kind of like Argentine barbecue) in the country while laughing at his father's descriptions of what they were going to sing next. 

The countryside we spent the day in.  I LOVED the tree on the left hand side.

A close up on one of the farmer's (gauchos they are called) as he milked a cow.  I left the cow out, because I was trying to take a "tight" picture as described in the video.

A picture of the distant mountains, vegetation, and farm tools all through an off-centered door. Originally I was trying to use the rule of thirds, but it's a little off.  I still liked how the picture turned out.

I love how the light sets of the Virgin Maria in this picture in a Jesuit Cathedral in downtown Cordoba.

A slightly off-center close up of one note out of thousands that were taped to the walls in a local student hang out.  When translated, this quote basically says "Don't focus completely on the road you are traveling down or that will be all you find."

I tried to keep the rules in the back of my mind this week, but to not be a slave to them.  Everyone's eyes see things differently (that's what makes photography an art and not a science or something regimented!) and mine are no exception.  I hope that others can appreciate these pictures as much as I do.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why doesn't this feel like home?

When you see the golden arches across an unfamiliar street in a new city, it’s almost as if it’s a reassurance that you haven’t somehow managed to land yourself on a different planet.  It sounds kind of pathetic when you say it out loud, but for those of us that have grown up with the McDonalds brand, deep inside it is true. 
Some of my fellow Clemson students were kind enough to go with me on my McDonalds adventure.  We were taking a break from Spanish and going into the restaurant made us feel very much more like outsiders to the culture.  We had, for a brief moment, become “those typical Americans” that needed our food and were speaking our language.

 Even though the food was mostly the same, we felt strangely uncomfortable in the McDonalds.  There was almost no one else in there, and that said a lot.  There are quite a few McDonalds in Cordoba, but they’ve never appeared crowded.  It’s just not the desired food here (which is good because most of the typical foods of Cordoba are INCREDIBLE!).

**Here was supposed to be the picture I took of the menu, but in true Argentine fashion, my internet instillation date keeps getting pushed back.  I have now been promised Tuesday.  It looks almost exactly like the menu of the McDonalds in Clemson, however**

I think that McDonalds is doing all it usually does in a foreign country to market the brand to the people of Argentina, but they aren’t buying it.  I think it might have something to do with their lack of interest in becoming like Americans.  Argentina looks to Europe for its role model, not the states, and you can tell after even only being here for a little over a week.  Even their website doesn’t take the time to convert to Argentine Pesos; they show their philanthropy amounts in United States dollars.

This says “A big thank you, the aid we have all given is already in Haiti”

A final thought, a close friend has told me more than once that America has never declared war on a country that has a McDonalds.  What does this say about us as a nation?  That we only will support countries that are striving to adapt to our dominate culture?  This really bothers me, anyone else?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Talking through Screens

Information transfer is a funny, funny thing—especially when you are witnessing it through the eyes of a different culture.  In the United States today, the vast majority of people, with only the major exception being the oldest generations, are “screen literate.”  They use the internet to pay bills, find restaurants, communicate with people worldwide, watch television, and so much more.  They have phones that they take with them everywhere so that they can communicate through text messages.  Many even have smart phones that allow them to further indulge not just their capacity for, but their need for, on screen communication. 

Here in Argentina (yes, I finally made it!), the transition hasn’t yet been taken quite as far.  The younger generations all use computers with email and facebook, but they aren’t as dependent on them as those of us from the States.  While we, the students from Clemson, frantically use our computers during lunch, the Argentine students are content to simply eat and enjoy the company of those around them.  Also, BlackBerry’s (how I miss mine!) and iPhones are available, but aren’t used except by people in the business world.  It is very unlike the states where all of my friends return my email within 30 seconds of their reading it through their phone. 
There are many reasons that the transition is not as extreme here.  The main reason, of course, is money.  Argentina isn’t a struggling nation compared to many, but it definitely does not have the affluence of the United States.  (Just to give you an example, most houses don’t have air conditioning or heat or wireless internet—because all of those things are on the same comfort level for me!)  Because of this, technologies that lead to the transition in communication styles are slower to catch on.

The more I think about it, the more torn I am on my feelings regarding this transition.  One the one hand, I am part of the driving force of the transition.  I live my life with computer, television, iPod, and BlackBerry screens.  One the other hand, however, I am again experiencing the value of living in a culture that has not fully entrenched themselves in the movement toward a screen culture, that is, as a result, at a much faster, connected pace.  While my extreme type-a personality is sometimes crying inside with frustration, part of me enjoys taking the time to physically and verbally great every single person in a group when leaving or arriving. 

I wish that there was an easy way to find harmony between the communication cultures of the past, but I don’t know that there is.  We have already lost much of the verbal culture and soon will have also begun to forget about the special, important aspects of the written communication culture of the near past.  Where are we going with all of this?  Will we become so caught up in ways to virtually communicate that we won’t take the time to talk face to face?  Will the cycle be cyclical and lead us back to a culture based on verbal communication?  I guess, as always, time will truly tell.

**The internet connection I am currently using is taking forever to upload pictures, so when I find a better connection (there should be one in my house next week!) there will actually be pictures in my blogs!!**