In the Classroom
This photo essay examines how different life activities have evolved to have technology incorporated in different ways. While these photos only capture a single frame in a moment, they all have stories that surround them. The photographs chosen for this essay depicted in black and white show how we once lived life without the need for technology. For the photographs depicted in color, I asked my friend Annabelle to assist me in recreating the black and white photos with a technological twist. I chose this topic for two reasons: the reality that was COVID-19, and the increased use of technology. People quickly had to learn how to make things virtual, and our days went from rushing to different places, to sitting in front of a computer screen all day. Even the things we don’t necessarily need technology for now have virtual options for humans to use. Another reason I had Annabelle be the subject of the colored photos was to show how one person can utilize so much technology in every step of their day.
The lens used for this project was the focus on technology. In the black and white photos, we note the lack of technology and its presence in some of these daily activities. All those photos are people or activity focused. When we move to the colored photos, we see how the technology lights up the photograph and takes center stage. Even if the phone, computer, or television are not in the center of the frame, the brightness of the screen definitely draws the eye and removes Annabelle as the main subject.
The black and white image of four separate textbooks turns into the colored photo of Annabelle studying the same subject, but all of her materials are electronic. Not only has technology revolutionized the amount of paper used in creating these school materials, but also the weight of a student backpack. This was my reality as a student growing up. Seeing younger teenagers at my high school use laptops was something my cohort was never allowed to do. I carried around five different binders and textbooks, and while a locker made it easier, it was definitely easiest when I got to college and was able to use a laptop and iPad for all of my courses.
The black and white image of a mother spending time with her two kids turns into the colored photo of Annabelle on the phone with our friend, Ousmane, acting has her child. Both mothers have the worry that their kids will decrease the amount of time they spend with them, but one hopes that the kids will never leave the couch, while the other hopes that her son never hangs up the phone. These are both growing pains that mothers experience, and while technology can act as an aid to stay connected, the time they spend yearning to stay with their child forever never leaves them.
The next black and white image depicts a couple that goes on their first date. I characterized the man to wonder about if the woman likes him back, which is the same experience that Annabelle has in the colored photo of herself swiping on Tinder. The endeavors of dating are always filled with uncertainty, but we find ways to create human connection as best as we can.
As a musician, the next set of photos really hit close to home. The black and white image of the jazz band shows how people used to get to play together and feel the energy of the crowd and their performance. The colored image of Annabelle conducting a zoom orchestra showcased the reality that musicians faced when COVID-19 hit. We couldn’t perform, let alone rehearse together anymore. I have a memory of being with my friend in his room while he would be in a zoom choir. He would sing his part on mute while the conductor would play the accompaniment and give conducting cues to the muted choir. The experience was null, but it was the only way musicians could do music, even if the experience was only a fraction of the euphoria you’d feel.
The black and white image of a teacher in a classroom with his distracted students turns into what was colloquially known as “Zoom University” in the colored image of Annabelle distracted during a zoom lecture. This goes to show that no matter how teaching is delivered, students will always find ways to be distracted in a classroom. However, it has been fun seeing online courses become synchronous due to applications like zoom!
The final black and white image shows a group of women taking a dance class together. In my experience, I’ve had friends say they could never do something like that, and that learning to dance takes so much confidence. Why go to a class when you can do what Annabelle does in the colored photo and learn to dance in the comfort of your own living room? There’s no one to judge, but both versions have supportive energies that fill the room whether it’s because of other friends, or the YouTube instructor.
While you explore different areas of your life, technology finds ways to adapt to those lifestyles. Even if you don’t need the technology, the convenience is always there. Now that we live in a post-COVID society, your life is what you make it. I personally still have classes that I prefer to take online, even though I learn best in-person. The parallels of these experiences are still genuine since regardless of what we do, technology is an aid to us and we still get to create relationships and build connection because of those experiences. We don’t tend to notice how much technology takes over our activities, but that means it’s advancing quickly and accurately, just as it was intended.