The Daily Mash has really grown a beard in recent years. Once, it was merely an embarrassingly sub-standard attempt to do a British version of The Onion. Now, The Onion has disappeared behind a paywall and no-one’s reading it any more, and it’s The Daily Mash which gets shared virally around social media. Not only that, but the quality of its articles has vastly improved: its choice of satirical targets is spot on, its insights into the absurdity of contemporary politics and society are razor sharp.
For example, there’s this little gem: “Friends enthralled by gig filmed on phone”. Gig-filming is one of those phenomena which are especially bewildering, because everyone agrees it’s shit and people should stop doing it, and yet lots of people still do it.
When I was in India last year, I did a bit of experimenting with stereoscopy.
Stereoscopy is a technique for creating 3D images. By taking one photograph of a subject, then moving position very slightly to the left or right, and taking a second photograph of the same subject, you end up with a stereoscopic pair of pictures. This pair replicates the two slightly horizontally displaced versions of the world seen by each of your eyes. All you need to do then is place the two photographs side by side, and cross your eyes so that one eye is looking at one image, and the other eye is looking at the other one. Your brain then combines and interprets the two images in the way it normally does, to reproduce a 3D perception of the subject.
I used to play about with this technique when I was younger, and visiting some of the forts and ruins of India, I realised they might be particularly good for stereoscopy. I’ve just got around to editing the photos into pairs, so here they are.
In Jaipur, we visited the Albert Hall, an ostentatious Indo-Saracenic pile built by the British and now housing the state museum of Rajasthan. While we were there, I noticed a phenomenon occurring which I’ve often wondered about before. A young man was walking around the museum exhibits, scanning each cabinet and shelf with a digital video recorder. He wasn’t taking any time to look at the exhibits himself, just watching the swivel screen as he quickly passed from case to case, to make sure he captured every object in his sweep.
Now, let’s establish some basic truths. This video would be completely unwatchable. Not just because of the sickening motion of the camera (have you ever noticed how in television and film, almost all filming is done with static camera shots? And ‘tracking shots’, where the camera moves, are used only very sparingly, by expert directors? There’s a reason for this) but also because of the awful tediousness of the subject. I’m willing to bet that no-one in the entire history of humanity has ever sat down and watched one of these videos after their holiday. After all, if you don’t find the exhibits interesting enough to actually look at them while you’re there, you’re hardly going to want to watch them on a shaky, blurry video afterwards.