If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

Roy Batty, the four year old man spoke these words to the man who designed his eyes. Mortality defines us. When my four years are up, I’d also like to offer up some things I’ve seen and heard. As a photographer, I’m a documentarian of the world in instant and less instant moments. While others wonder if they dream in black and white or at all, I dream in multimillion dollar budget technicolor vistavision blockbusters with guest directors lining up to elicit from the tools of my defragmenting brain stories of wonder and woe. Others dream of the bike they think they had when they were six. I dream of bars of light from the blinds in the window crossing the roadmapped face of the man with one gold eye.

If there is a disorder where your dreams or immagination become indistinguishible from reality, I’d like to give it a try. If nothing else, I’d like to get that last speck of realism into my varied fantasies. I can see an interview with a woman I videotaped about a year ago. Modern medicine was unable to keep her alive, but I can almost still touch her. She’s as real a memory as is that of my sister currently alive as far as I know in California. I see neither of them enough to know if they are gone permanently or just for a while. My sister seems to return into life despite great distance and time. But perhaps I am like the man from Memento, for I forget to forget things and events from the past play from an iPod on shuffle without date or time or hint into what matters and what doesn’t. Maybe I do have a disorder.

Some of the things I might mention to a companion upon my death:

I saw tiny birds at the Skokie Lagoons hunting insects over the green algae with a precision and speed reminiscent of the surgical strikes of the samurai. Velocity, the truest arrow in their quill, the tightest twists and turns didn’t seem to erase their speed as they traded height for angle. Only boomerangs know the same controlled violence.

I saw my body trading places with my mountain bike as I failed over a fallen log, an instant of freedom, floating with Icarus wings melting as I rejoined the earth, my feet skillfully bound to clipless pedals above me, inverted, the dirt at my back. The bike was saved and my body was bruised, but I imagine how I looked like numerous videos I’ve seen of people much braver than I falling from much more immense challenges and heights.

Will someone be there to document my history as I’ve documented so many others through photos? Shooting a high quality photo of someone who has passed, you start to wonder if they ever had a professional photo taken of them. You start to wonder if that video where they cried out their story was their only time to be documented for history’s sake. These stories are lost, like tears in the rain, as Roy says. Shouldn’t someone be there to experience these experiences? Or will humans go on reinventing the wheel over and over. Is there something I should be doing to help the species progress beyond that?

What do you think?