White Noise by Don DeLillo includes one of my favorite vignettes. The characters in the book go on a small tourist trip to an ordinary barn in America had become, through constant photography, the most photographed barn in America. People photograph the barn because it is, after all, the most photographed barn in America. Here’s a short expert:
"No one sees the barn," he said finally.
A long silence followed.
"Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."
He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.
"We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura."
You can read here for the full excerpt.
In the last few days in Colombia, where my talk on Ubuntu and Debian put me on the front page of an important newspapers and lots of people have turned their cameras toward me, I empathize a little bit with the barn.