NOVEMBER 4th, 2008
MANY THANKS TO THOSE WHO INDULGED ME AND MY C A M E R A W I T H T H E I R P R E S E N C E O N T H I S F A T E F U L D A Y. . .
8:58 pm: discussion about the future As people gathered in this awkwardly open and underfurnished room, it became clear that we were all here for a reason. Every single person contributed to the memory of this night by what they said, where they sat, and how they moved in front of the camera. They were all aware of my existence, as well as the cameraâ€™s, but for once a group of people were focused, in unison, on one thing, without distractions: their future.
09:02 pm: kentucky is a swing state News started rolling in quickly as polls closed in the midwest. Thus far everyone was talking above the other, making projections and stating travel plans in case of an unfavorable outcome. Everyone hushed as Wolf Blitzer came on and started making his predictions; this year even the unpredictible is possible as he announces Kentucky is â€œtoo close to call.â€?
09:04 pm: what are we waiting for? A sudden wave of motivation and spirit filtered through the room as my guests started to question why we wouldnâ€™t be able to make this happen. There was no question as to whom everyone was supporting, but at the brink of such a change everything was fair game. It could go either way, but it should only go one way. According to us, anyway.
09:07 pm: pennsylvania? sure thing! Why not take the projections seriously? The more Mr. Blitzer spoke, the more rowdy we became. Cheers and laughter echoed up to the ceiling as we took probabilities as realities. Of course, our reaction was at least as jovial to official results when they came in later, but in this moment, I think we all believed we can make it happen by willing it. Hard.
09:11 pm: on to the next thing... Allright. Everyone take a breather, letâ€™s lapse back from the future to the current. I tuned out the converstaion for a while - now the talk was more complaint about the financial situation of the U.S. - and stared at my guestsâ€™ expressions through the lense. It is strange the sense of authority one gets when behind a camera, looking at her peers.
10:14 pm: comic relief We zap CNN for a while, and switch to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbertâ€™s election night special, Indecision 2008. Even they - though at this point we were not sure if the show was live or not - seem to be giddy and on edge with excitement. Everyone admires their intelligence and listens to them with a much greater concentration.
the television itself The more I moved around the two rooms, where my guests were located, searching for different compositions and points of view, the more I realized that the TV, at that moment, had become an irreplaceable commodity. It was amazing to watch people talking back and forth, changing rooms and positions, having conversations without facing the other person, and instead watching the TV.
Our pace slowed down awhile; we had been on a sugar high for a couple of hours now. The focal point of all of the human attention was still either of the TVs. At a certain point, they were switched to two different channels and the two rooms competed for the title of “Most Obnoxiously High Volume.” It wasn’t hard to get a sense of the anxiety that was seeping through the air.
The bigger part of the group marched outside for a cigarette break. But Sarah here, wasnâ€™t quite ready to move away from the TV. She sat alone there for a while, mostly oblivious to everything else around her.
the two parlors Now I wanted to try to get a shot of both rooms form eitherâ€™s vantage point. It was a hard task, but I think I managed. The iteresting thing was that I felt somewhat invisible because no one seemed to be perturbed by my leering presence. I enjoyed the freedom of this bizarre voyeurism and continued to shoot the connecting rooms.
The population of each parlor changed frequently. There were those who were very possessi over their side and their spot, and there were those who were granted a traveling visa and took advantage of it by constantly going back and forth. And of course, there were those who were strays and they would leave unnoticeably.
the concession speech! Somehow everyone crowded the dining room for this one, although there were still a few people outside. This is most definitely one of the moments weâ€™ve all been waiting for. The electoral vote had donned the crown of victory on Mr. Obama, and now it was time to hear what his competitor had to say.
It was surprising to hear boos coming from the TV, from Mr. McCainâ€™s crowd when he mentioned Obama, and yet none of my guest made such gestures. Everyone was in stark quietness and observance as he spoke. His opponentâ€™s supporters listened to him carefully until the end of his speech.
Now I observe everything outside the Priority 1 political agenda. I shot things that cooperatively composed our evening. These are the details I remember. Our surroundings, the envelopement of food and alcohol, the irrelevant conversations and anectode-offs we had. If it werenâ€™t for these items, the night would not have been complete.
Even those with whom I probably never have conversed, we share a common cognizance. This night brought us in the same space, observing the same events, and we probably predicted that the other thought the same way as we. The interactions people were having would have seemed odd, taken out of context. But to me they are just another example of the effect of feelings and occasion on memory.
ZOOMING IN AND OUT
Itâ€™s like blurring your vision so you can distinguish tone better. Except this time, I was mentally zooming out and visually zooming in. I wanted to make a mark of their existence in that space for however long they were standing. My guests talked and moved about as I recorded their - as well as the eveningâ€™s - fleeting presence through long exposure.
The night ended with this last image, as my cameraâ€™s batteries died. People of the city were screaming and cheering outside after Mr. Obama gave his victorious speech. The sights, sounds, and emotions will always stay with me, and I thank all those who came and shared themselves with me.