I have been thinking about how I look at the world… and how through the years visual elements have shaped my view
In the beginning of 2016 I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit the smallest country in Africa, The Gambia. I say lucky because this was an amazing experience that broadened my world views and in a way, a life changing experience.
I thought about a lot of things and one of them was how we can bring communities much closer together through visual documentation of different cultures and in the end support increased globalization.
I come from a rather isolated island in the north Atlantic Ocean called Iceland, the whole population is just over 300.000 people. Some sort of media has always been a big part of this little community from the first settlers to the modern day, Before the second world war we were one of the poorest countries in Europe and written media was very dominant the first radio broadcast was in 1930 and the National radio station was founded but through the war the British army occupied the country and they were followed by the Americans and with them they brought the television, this changed everything. The first television broadcast was in 1966 by the National radio station and it was the only station to broadcast television for a very long time, they recognised the power of visual stimulation and the original aim of the station was for educational purposes.
In the beginning, they didn’t broadcast every day and took regular summer vacations and on the year I was born 1987 they started to broadcast all year, every day of the week.
The children’s hour was every day at six in the evening, soon the station also started to broadcast children’s cartoon and educational programs during weekend mornings, and I am going to go so far as to say that every child on a certain age was sitting in front of the television at that exact time watching that program probably to give tired parents that extra hour of sleep but it also gave us a unique perspective of the world because some of these programs were short documentaries about children in other countries, we got to know their culture, their families and friends and their daily lives, we got to visit them in their classrooms and during their routines and activities, all this through a screen in our living rooms, these documentaries were educational and allowed children on a small island in the north Atlantic ocean a peek into the lives of other children around the world.
When I was in The Gambia I got to look at these documentaries from a new perspective. I got to witness first hand this other community and culture and although at first it might look unorganized and primitive, but if you look a little deeper into it you will see just how much we have in common.
I worked for The Gambia federation of the disabled for 5 months and through my work there I was working on a short documentary about disabled people that were doing awesome work, unfortunately due to lack of funding and time I never managed to shoot the film but I still got a chance to see how much a little documentary could do for a small community.
Even though children don’t sit anymore glued in front of the television at six in the evening watching cheap cartoons when they have easy access to all the new and interesting animations through the Internet, I still think these types of documentaries are popular and relevant for increased globalization, My experience in the Gambia showed me that interest in film making is increasing, and with better technology many interesting things can develop, documentaries have had their role in globalization and I connect them to the way I have experienced globalization growing up.