Friday, August 8, 2008

Jesus & Me and My Phone Make Three

Pensacola, Florida, resident Linda Square volunteers at Englewood Coin Laundry. According to this Pensacola News Journal article, in an effort to kill time during a recent shift, she pulled out her phone and “began scrolling through the substantial library of family photos stored on the device.” Amid all of the recognizable scenes and faces, a “dark and blurry” image caught her attention. She had no idea what it was. She looked closely at the image, created on July 25, and still didn’t recognize it. Then she turned the screen so it was horizontal. That’s when things got interesting.

In the right part of the image she saw herself, and looking over her on the left side of the screen: Jesus, his face bearded, a white light over His head. Square has no recollection of taking the picture. She visited her local cell phone purveyor and asked if the company had sent her the image (which strikes me as a question you ask when you already know the answer). My guess is that the phone was in a pocket or bag and somehow got triggered to become a camera.

Do you think she was wearing this shirt when she went to the store?

Obviously, Square is proud of her discovery, finding it inspirational. She has been waiting to interview as a foster parent: "He is telling me to prepare for this . . . He's telling me to get myself together."

Of course, the best parts of this story are the t-shirt and cell phone. I understand why people like looking at photographs, whether as art or a way to remember, but I am shocked by the frequency at which I see an individual, mostly on trains and buses, but sometimes at bars, doing exactly what Square had been doing: killing time staring into a hand-held screen. The image is of such appeal to us that the easier it is to focus on it, the more we do. We have always turned to the image for meaning, as a way to understand experience, and now, too many people seem to favor the moment as memory, rather than experiencing it enough to let the moment pass before it has been memorialized.

In Square’s case, how the image came to be is another story, but her discovery of it was because she opted to look at old photos rather than stare at the tumbling colors in a dryer.

I wonder if she would stare at spinning clothes if her shirt, which says “Jesus & Me,” were in the load?

Do you think many people wear cell phone photographs on shirts?

(image from an article about encoding data on clothing, business cards, etc.)

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