The aesthetic of a virus
Gustavo Lopes Pereira (texto e foto)
The world has changed, everybody is saying. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented times, new behaviors and, also, a new aesthetic. The space between us is now a consideration. In television, reporters wear gloves and convey telescopic mechanical arms to ensure distance from interviewers while holding plastic wrapped microphones close to their mouths.
Back in the studio, round tables are held with greater distance between talk show participants and live audiences are absent. Skype interviews are now the norm in televised live broadcasts. People wander in idiosyncratic rooms of pixelated screens and extra compressed audio. In most cases, they are filming themselves from a not so flattering “below the chin wide angle perspective”.
One wonders if these appearances are the subject of informed analysis beforehand. Commentaries on the style and content of bookshelves shown by these improvised video producers thrive on social media. The eruption of children and cats during live broadcasts is the object of memes. When a smartphone is used, it usually is in a vertical position, so a blurred image is doubled to fill in the sides on horizontal television screens.
On the street, flocks of individuals gather around pharmacies and grocery stores, keeping distance from each other, creating random cloud-like formations that for now seem to lack logic to the human observer. Some use gloves and keep a bottle of alcohol gel in their pockets, for sterilizing purposes. Everybody wears masks and these are increasingly made in different colors and shapes. For now, masked mobs are the archetypal image of the pandemic. When boredom sets in, in a near future, the unmasked citizen will be the Holy Grail for news photographers. As for content goes, hospital wards and funeral parlors have never been so visually scrutinized. In print media, black and white photography is back. These are dark times we live in, but not without a sense of style.