Did you know the world map was often distorted tremendously to make certain countries larger than they appear on Earth? Would you say humans tend to correlate importance with size? Finally, is it difficult to believe our emotions often determine our beliefs despite having concrete evidence that supports beliefs other than our own?
Often times, Africa was depicted to be much smaller than it actually is on world maps, while countries like Greenland and Iceland were exaggerated. This was intentionally done to subconsciously cause people who viewed the world map to associate large sizes with the rank of importance. The larger the country is seen (or anything for that matter), the more importance it has acquired because people will believe there is more capital, more revenue, more people and more need. If many people have been taught that these are the true sizes of these countries, it would be nearly impossible to make people believe otherwise. Truly, how often do we challenge cartographers? This stems from our emotions. As humans, we cannot fathom having a belief for many years only to learn that this belief is definitely false and at this point, we often question if we truly care about something’s validity.
In her wonderfully written essay, “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines,” Marlene Manoff shares the ideas of many brilliant people who discuss the importance and relevance of items in archives. Particularly, David Greetham, a professor and text specialist, admits that ““all conservational decisions are contingent, temporary, and culturally self-referential, even self-laudatory: we want to preserve the best of ourselves for those who follow. (20)” This statement will always stand true. Manoff addresses how historians and archivists are “devoted to redressing the limits of the official record… in an attempt to locate the voices of the silenced. (15)” Purposeful omissions of history in the archive are made to heighten one’s importance and diminish another’s. Again, if this is all we have learned, have seen and been taught, we are more likely to grasp onto the specific inflations. Though many voices have been silenced in the preservation of archives, this makes the events associated with the silenced no less important than the documented. It should make one question how substantial these voices are since they
were purposely silenced.
In Erika Larsen’s “Photograph Not Taken,” she specifically dedicates the moment to the father who mourns the loss of his daughter and mother while reminiscing. Though she did not capture this moment visually, it made this event no less significant in the father’s life or her own. Without capturing this moment visually, this did not erase the event of the father mourning or the memory that the father mourned for him or Larsen. To Larsen, the moment was best preserved in memory to savor the real feeling.
In my own “Picture Not Taken,” I discuss spilling hell-fire temperature coffee over myself and my car, that I had just bought four months prior. I took off the cap to help the coffee cool faster, however, in the two seconds it should have taken me to carefully place the cup back in my cup holder, I fell asleep for a split second – long enough to scorch my skin. I worked an overnight shift and the semester was coming to an end and more work than imaginable. I was exhausted. I do not believe a picture could have fully captured how tired I was in that moment. In fact, a picture would have done me an injustice. It is often impossible to capture the full emotion of an event without the events that lead to it. I cannot fathom how one could capture my full exhaustion in just one picture – I needed a photoshoot for that!! But in the same, it made this event no less significant in my life. I will forever have the memory of how difficult this time in my life was. Granted my experience was not on such a grandeur scale, however, the event is not erased in MY history simply because it wasn’t captured visually.
This all correlates with our beliefs. What are we willing to believe although something has been purposely exaggerated, omitted or un-captured? Do we truly believe that one would do these things to assert superiority? A digital media maker has the ability to continue these practices of exaggeration and omission or change how humans teach, learn and think by being inclusive and truthful. Considering how easily and readily available information is to us now, we must modify how and why we archive. We must archive objectively, for the truth from all areas.What we know about the truth is often distorted but we can continue to curtail the gap. The truth about the truth is… we must and we can change the capacity of what future generations know and cling on to be true.