A double exposure photograph in front of Ohrid Lake, showcasing the merging of two distinct images.
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Relativity through the Lens of Holga Camera

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The idea that time is relative has taken root in our collective imagination. It emerged as a materialistic theory in which Einstein emphasized the dilation of time when two observers are in relative motion to each other, known as Einstein’s theory of relativity. Nowadays, this concept has integrated into our everyday language and got a more philosophical sense. We could even assert that its vital sense has been reversed: time seems to move faster for someone in motion compared to someone static.

The Holga Camera

In this photographic essay, I aim to delve into the philosophical meaning of time relativity by utilizing filters based on the legendary Chinese Holga camera.

The Holga is a medium-format camera manufactured in Hong Kong that, although discontinued, is still widely used by film photography enthusiasts due to its unique qualities.

As you can see in the Contact Sheet at the end of the article, the captured images present a distinct aesthetic due to the camera’s poor construction, resulting in vignetting and unpredictable light leaks. However, these imperfections grant a unique character to the images.

This captivating double exposure photograph captured in front of Ohrid Lake embodies the essence of the photo essay. Through the skillful technique of double exposure, two distinct images converge into one, symbolizing the interconnectedness of time, perception, and memory. The serene beauty of Ohrid Lake serves as a backdrop, adding a touch of ethereal charm to the composition. The merging of these images invites viewers to contemplate the relativity of human experience and the interplay between past and present.
Whether you have had a good life or a bad one, there is always things to be grateful for, there is always memories to hold on to, there is always ways to look at things differently, because as long as we are alive, we can do something with it. Every moment holds the potential for growth, gratitude, and the ability to create something extraordinary.

The Relativity of Perception and Memory

There is something captivating about these photographs as they reflect how we perceive and process what we see. In essence, the Holga camera acts as a relativistic tool, emphasizing a unique perspective and reminding us of the individuality of the human experience, as well as the fallibility of our memories.

When we remember, we use parts of our brain that are also active during the process of imagination. While both processes are different, they use similar cognitive mechanisms. Imagination relies on memory, and at times, it fabricates memories, embellishing and shaping them based on our emotions, judgments, external influences, and desires to construct a certain narrative. Similarly, just like the Holga camera adds flashes of light and swamps of darkness to our captured reality, our mental and emotional constructions also add their own embellishments to our memories, which is why our memories are an interpretation, the relativity of human experience.

This delightful photograph captures a young girl immersed in play, surrounded by vibrant chalk drawings in a park. She enthusiastically engages with the colorful artwork, allowing her imagination to roam freely. The lively and creative atmosphere of the park is evident as the chalk drawings bring the space to life with their vivid hues and imaginative designs. This image encapsulates the spirit of childhood, highlighting the joy, innocence, and boundless imagination that can be found in simple moments of play.
Life is something to enjoy. That is what Friedrich Nietzsche said. He said that “maturity is to regain the seriousness that you had as a child at play.” I think he was right. Sometimes we take life too seriously, we let other people hurt our feelings and we have a challenging time forgiving them. When you are a child, you do not worry about those things. You just have fun with whatever you have. The world is your playground, and you only need your attitude to be happy.

Photography as a Tool for Presence

Memory and time are inherently intertwined. Time is a fundamental component of memory, and our memory allows us to understand the passage of time. An illustrative example of this is the case of Henry Gustav Molaison, who had his hippocampus removed and so lost the ability to form new memories.

Can you imagine being somehow trapped intime, waking up every day with the same day repeating itself, at least in your mind? What would you do?

For some individuals, this experience is a reality, relatively’ speaking. They find themselves stuck in an endless loop from Monday to Friday, followed by a brief pause of 48 hours that marks the beginning of a new cycle, devoid of longing for the past or excitement for the future, as it becomes indistinguishable from yesterday or today.

To me, photography is a way to be present, to remember that we often misinterpret the past and the future. They are merely different manifestations of the present; events that have already occurred or are yet to come. Although this may sound basic, it is something we often forget. The camera serves as a tool that helps me remember and focus on a single moment, appreciating the details with the same wonder as when I was a child. I recall spending hours seeing a snail’s progress or the reflections of city lights on the ground.

These cherished memories have passed through the filter of my emotions and thoughts, creating chiaroscuros, diminishing pains, and accentuating joys. Objective memories do not exist, and perhaps they should not.

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