I Whip My Hair…

Back in October of 2010, Willow Smith released her infamous single, “Whip My Hair.” This song, though overplayed, always led to a spontaneous dance party. Wild hair thrashing became my go-to move. After all, what else was I to do when Willow Smith began to chorus, “I whip my hair back and forth?” Sit calmly? I think not. Anyhow, I digress. While reading part XVI of Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Its Reproducibility, I was struck by his argument that the camera can capture moments of motion that humans don’t necessarily notice. Benjamin explains that with the “slow motion” capabilities of a camera, “movement is extended” and the “quite unknown aspects within [the movements]” are “disclosed” (Benjamin, 117). As I tried to think of a movement that I wanted to see slowed down, it occurred to me that I had never actually seen myself in mid hair-whip. To be honest, I’ve never seen myself whipping my hair. Observing myself in a mirror while my hair flies unpredictably in my line of vision is a skill I have yet to acquire. Luckily though, I had my trusty camera to turn to. With the help of self-timer, multi-shot, and flash I was ready to go. I turned up “Whip My Hair” and proceeded to act upon what the chorus told me to do. I was surprised by the results. The camera had indeed “disrupt[ed] and isolat[ed]” my hair whipping session. I can see why Benjamin believes that “movement is extended” but really, from the photographs, it appears as if “movement” is actually frozen. I had expected to see a blur where my hair was, but instead there were curls, swirling in mid-movement. My friends have always told me that my hair has a mind of its own, but until these photos I have not realized how true that statement is. The camera was able to capture what I can never personally see: my hair “curious[ly] gliding, floating” with a “character of [its] own” (Benjamin, 117).

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