Every day, except Tuesday, people travel thousands of miles to see the Mona Lisa in The Louvre in Paris. They travel over 6000 miles from Tokyo, 3400 miles from Montreal, and 1300 miles from St. Petersburg.
When they arrive, they pay 5 euro for an audio guide that they will half listen to. They only half listen, because it's not really about the art it's about the experience.
By experience, I mean that when they find the Mona Lisa, they push through the crowd to position themselves at the very front of the roped in area. They then stare at the Mona Lisa for approximately 15 seconds. Since their cameras are already in hand, they take a photo of themselves with Mona in the background. They also take a second photo just to be sure.
It takes but a second to photograph what Leonardo da Vinci spent four years painting.
Why savour something in the moment when you could carbon copy that moment and store it on a usb key for the next ten years? We can only observe the authentic, but we can own facsimiles of that authentic. Even better than ownership is that in our hand-held fascimiles, we are the foreground and da Vinci’s craftsmanship is but the background.
It is through the experience of self that we experience art and this earth. It is not that the places we go to that are incredible, it is that we have gone to those places that is incredible. Sometimes we travel the world and only see ourselves. (27 October 2013)