In our eyes

В наших глазах(V nashikh glazakh)– is the title of a famous song written by Soviet musician Viktor Tsoi in the midst of stagnation and turmoil of the 1980s. Meaning in our eyes in Russian, the song is a cry against a society that oppresses its youth, binding them to the customs and traditions of earlier generations. I’ve translated an excerpt below:

Постой, не уходи!
Мы ждали лета — пришла зима.
Мы заходили в дома,
Но в домах шел снег.
Мы ждали завтрашний день,
Каждый день ждали завтрашний день.
Мы прячем глаза за шторами век.
В наших глазах крики «Вперед!»
В наших глазах окрики «Стой!»
В наших глазах рождение дня
И смерть огня.
Wait, don’t leave!
We waited for summer, but winter came instead.
We went back into our homes,
but it snowed inside as well.
We waited for the next day.
Everyday, and the next.
We hid our eyes behind our eyelids.
In our eyes, they shout, “forwards!”.
In our eyes, they command, “Stop!”.
In our eyes were the birth of days
and the death of fires.

It is a call for a different kind of seeing, one that seeks not to be an objectivist authority nor to plead the cases of one particular side. Instead, I believe that it is a call to be open towards seeing the world through multiple points of view. But how should we go about achieving that?

One of the leaders of the avant-garde film movement in the Soviet Union, Dziga Vertov, proposed a system of seeing known as the kino-glaz, or cinematic eye. For Vertov, the movie camera was a symbol of humanity’s liberation from the physical limitations of our biological eye-lenses. Film promised to be able to capture more information – and replicate it more faithfully – than man ever could.

Although Vertov spoke directly to the moving image, his theories inspire my own work in photography. I actively try to push the limits of what my cameras can see beyond the capabilities of my naked eye. Post-processing is done with a similar mindset: I believe using software can help translate what was captured by the camera’s sensors back into something our eyes can comprehend, but there is no room for the injection of fantastical new information.

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