More Fleeting Thoughts

Westy Reflector
5 min readNov 28, 2023

week 2 in Florida w/ my parents, avoiding NYC’s turning seasons…

“I got it on video,” used to inspire joy, laughter, and relief. Now the words just hang in the air with pure dread.

Everything you do is now potentially captured forever.

Lol your picture is “taken.” Your image is “captured.” You get “shot” by a photographer. Lots of violations on your personhood there, yes?

A whole generation of folks will now never want to leave the lanai, and I don’t blame them.

Yesterday, my X feed fed me a vertical video crop of Queen at Live Aid. Freddie Mercury was the sole person visible in most of the 9x16 vertical-cropped frame, from any direction. Mercury was the focal point of all the original shots, and commanded the center of the cinematography, so the 9x16 crop almost appeared like original footage.

The video was true, in the sense that what you saw actually happened. It was not, however, the truth, rather, just a shadow of the entire performance that day by the band. The 9x16 framing relegated the rest of Queen to Mercury’s backing band.

Live Aid, of all concerts, and like all grand scale perspectives on the human experience, was a landscape, not a portrait. Vertical video is a singular scourge on visual discourse. It’s a rolled-up fractal of laziness, solipsism, and narrowed POV — a crystalline representation of the bullshit aesthetics that underpin today’s “democratization” of photography.

In the end, though, I don’t know what’s worse — some shiftless artist’s not rotating their phone to shoot video in landscape, or (like in the Queen vid on X) cropping iconic footage to 9x16 to accommodate viewers too lazy to turn their phone to watch a landscape video.

Oof. This world, I tell ya.

Here’s Queen at Live Aid in the original glorious 4:3 NTSC, the most democratic of all video formats: