Can You Stay Analogue In A Digital Era?

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In a world where everything is becoming digital, Jack investigates how some people are choosing to remain analogue… .

As a filmmaker whose work lives predominantly in the digital world, I find it inspiring to find people who still find the drive and inspiration to remain analogue. It amazes me to find such stunning work coming from such a dated practice, because I love technology and pushing the boundaries with what’s possible visually in my photography and film work.

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As a filmmaker I make things using physical laws captured in a digital medium ie. An analogue piece of art, but where it exists is in the digital realm. The things I make with my hands and my eyes and my mind. What I’m trying to do is reconcile that the two spaces/mediums, although different are not separate.

Analogue means a relation to, or of likeness to. Commonly we tend to use the term to mean something made haptically, or without the use of computing

Although the way the information is stored is through a digital medium, the photographic principles have not changed and are still strictly analogue. It’s important for us in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, that the things we create are still physical in a sense. Dexterity is one of the key components of creation that keeps it physical and somewhat belonging in the analogue realm. If a piece is created automatically through a computers processing of data rather than having been shaped by the artist’s finesse, it lacks the deeper connection that artists crave from their work.

I tracked down Rory Blair, who still lingers in the analogue world of photography. What he told me was more insightful and inspiring that I could have possibly predicted,

Rory Blair (right) with fellow photographer Robert McCloud (left)

Rory Blair (right) with fellow photographer Robert McCloud (left)

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

24 years of age, hark from London but feel less and less like a Londoner.

I graduated from a photography BA last year and am now flirting with pretention on an MFA. Part-time wedding tent erecter, part-time artist, part-time adventurer, procrastinator, homemaker, lover, complainer. I feel like I’m the protagonist for somebody else’s story.

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What aspects of your life have you been able to keep analogue?

I have an analogue life – which isn’t to say digital doesn’t exist for me. I couldn’t exist in our society without it, and I’m not opposed to it, I’m opposed to its replacing of analogue means of production and creation. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but exist as separate entities with separate abilities.

I like to feel my work as I make it and I like real chemical/physical changes to take place. There may be stages of digital manipulation within that, utilised specifically for their strengths; I can get more from a film image if I scan it, edit digitally and then digitally print – as the software is better than the analogue equivalent.

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What aspects of a digital life have you accepted and succumbed to?

I have an iPhone and now take a large chunk of my photos on it. It’s a good reference point, and along with my notebook is a trusty source of archiving my thoughts and oddities. I’ve got a computer, a laptop, a TV, a digital radio… I use social media to talk to people on the other side of the world, some I’ve never even met. I love Instagram as a platform and tool to disseminate what I’ve been playing with.

Rory processing film

Rory processing film

How do you personally define ‘analogue’?

Analogue has come to mean – for me – a specific process or way of thinking that remains close and true to reality. The hand has to be present in as many stages of development as possible. It grants you a closer relationship to where you are in the world and what’s actually around you. Analogue takes time. It allows you to think about what’s actually going on. It accepts limitation and flaws as the ebb and flow that is the beauty of life, rather than cleaning up and removing these things. Analogue is imperfect, digital is impersonal.

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With the growing digitisation of analogue things such as watches, books, cameras and cars, what do you predict will remain analogue to the masses?

Look at the popularity of film cameras, vinyl records, bespoke/artisan creations, reclaimed wood, antiquities/retro/vintage items. Perhaps unwittingly people are searching for ‘the real’ that they’re losing from their lives. But I don’t say that with certainty.

God's Finger by Rory Blair

God’s Finger by Rory Blair

To have my questions answered I had to send them in letter form, which was ironically negotiated via Facebook message and texts. I found that my preconceived notions of what it was to remain analogue and the ethos behind it were completely wrong. It’s just an attempt to keep a level of dexterity and to keep the creative process human. What I learned from Rory inspired me so much that I loaded up my old Olympus OM2 with a fresh real of film and ran outside.

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What’s your style? Are you strictly analogue or digital or even both? Let us know on any of our social media outlets at – @rifemag

Did you like Rory’s work? Check him out at:

If you want to get involved in photography in Bristol, check out the Young Photographers Club from the Creative Youth Network

Related Links:

Is Instagram Killing The Art Of Photography? – by Cai Burton

How Not To Suck At Photography – by Shamil Ahmed

More from the author:

Smartphone Filmmaking Masterclass Episode 1 

Hacking Your Sleep

Ten Movies That Accurately Predicted The Future