Autonomous Cars, Film and the Connection Between Them

Autonomous Cars, Film and the Connection Between Them

As daily activities become more autonomous, so more cultural islands of people wishing to integrate nostalgic behavior will come into being. This behavior is a yearning for actions or perceptions that were practiced in the past. Those who incorporate nostalgic behavior maintain a balance between technology and nostalgia as part of their lifestyle, and they will adopt more mechanical thought processes into that lifestyle that are devoid of any innovation.

Nostalgia is beyond thought, it is behavioral nostalgia that is expressed in practice. As a creative person, I use the machine to create my work. I maintain full control of the process, in contrast to a machine that creates for me and that controls the creative process. For example, I create a piece of furniture with my own hands, including planning, selecting materials, processing the materials and assembling the furniture – in contrast with using digital sketching and feeding the plan into a machine that makes the furniture for me. Those people who instill nostalgic behavior create cultural islands that I call analog islands. There are many analog islands, examples of which I will present here.

When did you last manage to overturn your car on its side while making a turn? Today, your car has an automatic balance and control system that prevents you from doing so. The system has been integrated into vehicles to increase vehicle stability. There are many automatic systems integrated into our cars. These come at the expense of the driving experience and disconnect us from the machine, thus diminishing the capabilities we had in the past. Try driving a car from the 1970s today, one that is not equipped with any vehicle computers, one that you open the bonnet of the car and look at its guts – not to mention opening the hood in the back of car that with rear wheel drive such as the Fiat x1/9. For most of us, the experience of driving such a vehicle would be strange.


Photo by Itay Levin

A year ago, I bought a car accessorized with a multitude of sensors designed to prevent accidents and to ensure that I drive carefully. Some of these sensors are located on the sides of the car, and when a car passes me on the right or the left, a small light appears in the mirror, warning that the lane is not free. The purpose of that light is to fill the blind spot in the driver’s field of vision. I noticed that recently, I’ve been relying more on that little lightbulb, and I look less in the mirror or tilt my head to check if the lane is free. I’m considering cancelling the light to restore my sharpness and decision-making authority. I do not want to imagine what would happen if that light were to take control of my behavior, if it were to stop working.

My car feels too autonomous, with all its computing capabilities that are there to protect me, interfering with my driving and dulling my senses. I believe that as soon as autonomous vehicles appear at sales points, an analog island of vehicles will develop alongside, with manufacturers launching special models of non-autonomous vintage vehicles.

As a photography enthusiast, I have taken pictures with many cameras in my life, from cameras that use various formats of film to a variety of digital cameras. I recently went back to using a film camera from the 1970s, and I also went back to using older lenses on my digital camera. Why am I telling you this? Because I want to share the thought process and experiences that I’ve experienced over recent years.


Market Street San Francisco, California, Photo by Itay levin (6×9 color negative film)

Digital cameras show us a realistic and precise image – click and you get a perfect picture. In transitioning to digital photography, I was very meticulous in thinking out and planning every frame. I would choose the right lens, the angle I wanted, measure the light, select the right definitions, hold my breath, and only then, press the shutter button. Slowly but surely, I began noticing that I was skipping some of the steps in the process. I felt that this led me to feel dissatisfied, and to me taking more pictures. I realized that I needed to retrain my brain, to train it to think as it used to in order to achieve better results. As such, I began using a completely mechanical camera again, without a light meter, without autofocus, with film that included only eight shots. Try to think how you would take pictures if you had a memory card for only eight photos.

I decided to give my daughter my 35-mm camera as a birthday gift, and I bought her black and white film. We will take pictures together and print them in the dark room. The process and experience are necessary in order to understand the photographic process behind the scenes. In the digital world, the process is performed behind a black box. You press the button on one side, and the picture comes out on the other. The digital process is not part of the photographic experience. In analog photography, the process is a central part of the photographic experience – it is impossible to take good pictures without understanding it, and it cannot be skipped. There is something in the analog process that burns the experience into memory in different way.

Another analog island belongs to the bicycle world. In response to electric bicycles, a whole sector has grown that is going back to vintage bikes, simple bikes without gears, very similar to the bikes we rode a few decades ago. Some people even look for old bikes and renovate them. Companies have identified this cultural island and are marketing entire lines of high-quality vintage bikes constructed from high-quality composite materials used in the flight industry. The feeling of riding such a bike is magical and memorable. Companies that have been smart enough to realize that there is a large clientele for this, have started to make matching accessories that suit the spirit of the times, such as bags, clothing and bicycle parts that look like they are from the 60s and 70s.


London, photo by Itay Levin

Other than the experience that people look for in analog islands, the complex process and the learning, these islands also offer business opportunities. When automation and digitalization of things develop rapidly, there are those who look for some analog island. That island creates a new culture around it; a culture that does not constitute a marketing mass such as the digital market, but a culture that is definitely willing to spend more time understanding the product and that is prepared to invest more money in its love. This culture is more loyal and devoted to its brands.

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