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The Renaissance
P  h  o  t  o  g  r  a  p  h  y

A Keynote Address by

Pedro Meyer

at the SPE Conference,
Los Angeles, California



t's with the greatest of pleasures that I take this opportunity to share with you a few thoughts and ideas regarding the technological sea changes brought about on photography, which I believe will affect all of us here tonight.

If you can believe this, at one time I was also ten years old. Between my tenth and thirteenth year, my life changed completely: I had discovered the existence of photography.

I can well remember those moments when I would hold my breath as my eyes visited those little white sheets of paper immersed under a liquid, watching as the magic of the image would appear before my very eyes. I must tell you that I thought that those precious moments of shear amazement would never come back to me, ever again.

But lo-and-behold they have, almost forty years later, with the appearance of personal computers. Only this time the initial excitement has never ceased; every week there is yet a new development which makes last week's surprise look tame in comparison. Twelve years later, the magic continues for me on a daily basis, it never ends, because I'm always starting.

What had captured my imagination as a child were some very modest sheets of paper, exposed by contact and developed in tiny 5x7 trays precariously placed over the toilet seat. What has captured my imagination more recently has been the Internet, a medium which offers something just as unassuming but exhilarating as those initial small images. Only this time they appear on the screen instead of the developer. Here I am, fifty years later, being able to tell you with great excitement that my days of childhood are starting all over again.

Nice as this sounds, I also know that what I find so exciting and pleasurable is not every person's cup of tea. I am well aware that for many of you the simple idea of "new technologies" causes ripples to go down your spine.

Already Nicoló Machiavelli identified in his most famous work, The Prince (1532), "Nothing more difficult than to invent a new system, nothing more dangerous, since the possibilities for success are few. Whoever wants to build a new system makes enemies of all those who benefited and had privileges in the old system, and will receive little support from those that will derive the most benefit from the new order. Their reservation is due on the one hand to their fear of those that oppose them, the defenders of the old regime, and on the other, their skepticism; they don't believe in the new as long as its superiority has not been proven"

Let us listen to the words published on the Internet by a modern day skeptic: "In a culture where new and alluring technology tends to easily seduce us by its wonder into a kind of sleepy stupidity, we need personal defenses for protection from our own dangerously naive enthusiasm. In this world of blinding techno-hype, our survival demands that we learn to shield ourselves from the seductions of technological eloquence"


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