Response to As We May Think

There were a lot of interesting things in this reading, from the assumed necessity of society concentrating its intellect and capabilities on warfare, to the compression of human labor, but the following quote reminded me of a really dark period in my life: 

The repetitive processes of thought are not confined however, to matters of arithmetic and statistics. In fact, every time one combines and records facts in accordance with established logical processes, the creative aspect of thinking is concerned only with the selection of the data and the process to be employed and the manipulation thereafter is repetitive in nature and hence a fit matter to be relegated to the machine.

For a year I worked as a photo retoucher in the dark basement of a headshot reproduction company on Sunset Blvd in L.A.  The clients were actors and models and we would do basic corrections and basic "beautifying" on their headshots.  Some clients would pay extra for a little extra softening and whitening.  I would retouch an average of 30 headshots a day, circling the bags under their eyes with the lasso tool, running a filter on it, fading it.  Using the healing brush on crow's feet, neck lines, smile lines, and nostril lines (who knew?) and then fading it, 40% for men, 50% for women.  I would clone stamp zits and stray hairs.  I would take out bra straps and close button holes.  The actions were so repetitive that I would close my eyes and feel myself still making the motions: select, heal, fade. Select, airbrush, fade.  And then I noticed that when I was talking to someone, my mind would wander, and I would begin to focus on the pimples, wrinkles, and stray hairs surrounding their face. Select, heal, fade, I would think, mentally photoshopping their faces.  The urge to photoshop people became so strong that I began to photoshop strangers as I passed them on the street, wondering where on their face I could select the perfect color of flesh to then clone stamp on their collarbone, to cover up their bra strap. I would keep my hands at my side, but what I really wanted to do was to walk over to them, pull out my tablet pen, and get to work. It was horrifying.  My eyes had become automated. And they had become automated in the name of flawless beauty, in the creation of a visually perfect human being. Even worse, I was doing it unconsciously, without thinking.  This had become an instinct, my habit. I was a robotic retouching machine. 

I've also felt this way with photography, and it's one of the reasons I started doing video.  Because the bulk of my income was doing wedding and event photography, I was often shooting and editing 1,000 photos a week.  The types of shots that companies and brides wanted were so categorical and so contrived that I could do them in my sleep.  And after a while, this started to kill my love for photography, because I was just a button pusher.  Even moments of inspiration were most likely regurgitations of someone's Pinterest board.

I was also struck by this quote, but I haven't quite processed it yet and would like to chew on it some more.  But perhaps we can discuss it in class: The impulses which flow in the arm nerves of a typist convey to her fingers the translated information which reaches her eye or ear, in order that the fingers may be caused to strike the proper keys. Might not these currents be intercepted, either in the original form in which information is conveyed to the brain, or in the marvelously metamorphosed form in which they then proceed to the hand?