Walk like an Egyptian

As a journalism student minoring in Textile and Apparel Management, there’s very little overlap in subject matter between the two areas of study. Each emphasis presents to me a different mindset, almost as completely different entities that allow me to focus on one or the other with little synthesis in between. It wasn’t until this past week that my passion for storytelling and affinity for fashion merged in, and outside of, the classroom.

In my Wednesday afternoon History of Western Dress lecture, Dr. Wilson began covering the lifestyles and apparel of Ancient Egypt. This, for the most part, was a refresher from the countless weeks spent on the time period in high school world history classes. However, when we began talking about just how it is that we know what we know about the ancient Egyptians, my interest piqued and the journalism student in me began to analyze the methods in which we document our histories.

Back when Pharaohs ruled their respective kingdoms, religious leaders were the only literate members of society, and it was totally okay to walk around working in the desert nude (oh, such sweet freedom), documentation would take the form of hieroglyphics on stone tablets. The things that people did everyday, trades that were made, weather forecasts and particularly interesting news was all recorded in this way. And it’s a pretty amazing thing to realize that a few thousand years down the road, this information has been unearthed and shared with me in a lecture hall of 200 students on a projected powerpoint slide on the other side of the world.

So, this is a history lesson, right? I may have lost you by now. But there’s a point of relevance that ties back to journalism, I promise you.

See, as a journalist, I’m working to be a historian in my own right. I may not have a sweet position of authority within society like the Egyptian religious leaders had. But as a storyteller, I, too, will hopefully share the histories of my society that may one day help people of the future understand what kind of crazy, complex world we’ve come into and how we’ve shaped it. Maybe hundreds of years from now, students will be appalled (and rightfully so) to learn that it was briefly socially acceptable for women to appear in public wearing leggings as pants. Ultimately, what will we as a society be remembered for?

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“Life is once, forever.”

Multimedia. In a concept that is so limitless, I would be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t irrationally intimidated and a bit overwhelmed by what this multimedia journalism course is supposed to teach me. This isn’t history or English or math, but rather, something that is ever evolving. Yet purpose of this field is to use constantly developing technologies to document and deliver a moment as a fragment of history.

So Henri Cartier-Bresson said that “life is once, forever.” Pretty profound, that guy. But when I heard this quote, I thought of this story that I had read the day prior.

At what point does the development of technology interfere with capturing real events and getting them to the public in its truest, most accurate form? Even when messing around with the camera simulator in class, it’s hard to say whether or not you may be altering the image too much or magnifying something out of proportion, let alone using software to compile an image that kind of really never happened as pictured. Would that not constitute as true photography? Or maybe these resources are only making it better and capturing moments that, because of the limitations of our technologies, were yet to be attained using mechanical equipment.

It seems that it’s all about timing. The five different exposures used by the photographer all happened, but not necessarily down to the same millisecond. But as these programs are still in development, I think it’s an interesting new take on presenting images in a new format.

After all, time is a man-made concept. Start making four-day workweeks the norm and maybe we’ll be getting somewhere.