Nina Somera*, Manila, 11 September 2009
Two years ago, I rolled over Quezon Avenue as I jumped from an FX that was being held up. I did not have valuables in terms of cash and jewelry that can immediately benefit those thieves. In my knapsack were clothes, toiletries, a notebook, a few pens and an empty-bat mobile phone and a charger – the basics for an immersion in a riverside community of Talayan. It did not occur to me to surrender my belongings to the thieves as colleagues and friends would have advised. For me, it was just too unfair. Besides in my mobile phone were the last photos that I took of my dearest grandmother.
Fast forward: After I was treated in the hospital, I dropped by the police station to have the incident blottered. As in the past, the desk officers showed me some photos. But unlike before when our jeep was held up along Katipunan Avenue, they did not bring out their humongous albums but a shiny digital camera. I was not really expecting a development in my case by looking at those pictures but I was surprised nonetheless: I first saw successive pictures of a group of men and maybe their families in a swimming outing. The rest focused on faces of men, who were detained in the station and had no reason to be at Quezon Avenue that morning.
Bruised and scared, I was left wondering, how some images could be worth risking one’s life for and how such risk could be made so trifling by another set of images.
Digital cameras have become quite handy recorders of life’s various moments of performance: from triumphant to tragic, from momentous to trivial. But like us, digital cameras operate within particular contexts. Like us, their use value is based on their co-functioning with other tools, which are products of the same social relations of power. And like us, their fresh and sleak appearance cannot betray a historical legacy of struggles in communicating ideas, identities, discourses and desires.
New Lens, New Messages?
The advent of digital cameras has heralded a new era of capturing images that we make of ourselves and others. To begin with, the digital camera has managed to combine the multiple functions of what would have been a mid-range analogue camera as well as a video camera into a small silvery shell which one may carry the way she would a mobile phone. Its price is relatively more democratic, that the older the model becomes, its price tag also lowers but still remains fair given the fast replacement of models. It is most probably for this reason that more individuals rather than families own a digital camera.
Yet the digital camera must also be appreciated in relation to Web 2.0, particularly some of its more known applications such as blogging, websites, social networking sites, online petitions, online surveys and many others. The latter has given rise to individual-driven communications, which places more premium on images, rather than words and even sounds.
Prior to the creation of the World Wide Web in the early 90s, the more progressive social Western theorists thought of introducing the concept of the “text” far beyond the written word as the limits of formalism, linguistics, post-structuralism became more and more manifest. Hence, for Terry Eagleton, the “text” became anything that communicates, given the “web-like complexity of signs.”
Eagleton may have been quite forward looking but he and others may not have imagined the comprehensive development of the internet, its applications and the applications’ graphical user interface (GUI) – that from the flashiness reserved for MTV could be done at the level of the user who can be both the spectator and spectacle at the same time.
Through platforms such as blogger, wordpress, multiply, friendster, flickr and more recently facebook, digital photos have become more of a staple rather than a side dish, especially for those who are not so inclined to write but who are equally interested in having their lives documented. The orientation of these platforms as well as contents towards the individual at once facilitates and regulates the pleasures of seeing and being seen.
But more than the cost, the uniqueness of the digital camera can be appreciated through the impact of the images and sense of immediacy. True, photos for news services are still paid and sold, the way they were during the analogue era but certainly not in today’s speed and scale.
As the Web 2.0 has paved the way for citizen journalism or that which allows individuals to write their own personal stories and upload photos that can feed into the more political information gathering and broadcasting, more and more diverse images have become available to the internet. While some social networking sites include usage provisos that technically grant platforms partial ownership of any posted content, the number of users are just too many for strict regulation.
In fact on many occasions, such sites have become spaces for the promotion of the commons as in the case of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), whose library of cover-quality photos on flickr are made available the public.
Drik is also a repository of fantastic images of ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary situations. Its founder, Shahidul Alam has not only depicted the scale of wars and calamities but has also humanized their subjects in the midst of tragedies.
Aside from contributing in the production of news, some images have also bolstered social action on an international scale. Early this year, the flames of opposition against Israel’s aggression in Gaza were further fanned by very disturbing photos circulated on the internet. These showed Israeli soldiers taking photos of themselves beside tortured and lifeless corpses; Israel soldiers ordering a man to strip naked in public apparently in the pretext of surveillance; activists being run through by bulldozers in a Palestinian farmland and many more.
In the Philippines, the blogs of some journalists, when combined, can perhaps compensate for several newspaper and magazine issues. This, as their contents include stories behind the stories that they report on television and radio or even those which were not broadcast, along with some pictures. An example is the entry “Mayhem in May” which showed the panic of the crowd as a water buffalo went berserk during the Carabao Festival in Pulilan Bulacan.
Arkibong Bayan is another interesting repository of articles, photos and other materials related to the country’s social movements, aligned with the National Democratic Front. Their photos are taken during mobilisations, many of them rallies on human rights issues such as involuntary disappearance.
(Re)Making Memories and Realities
Because digital photos are so easy to produce, more people are able to document their lives and organise their memories. When before diaries were a purview of the bourgeoisie or at least people who had the luxury of time and the skill to write, digital cameras have now become the most accessible and convenient way to capture not just events but every day realities.
Such accessibility and convenience can be attributed to the nature of a digital photo: It is digital and it can be stored in memory cards and later on, hard drives with a gargantuan capacity. The sheer size of memory storage allows users and their subjects to be more carefree behind and before a digital camera. As bad and blurred photos can easily be trashed even while the camera is in use, users become much more comfortable while for the subjects, there is less pressure to perform. There can always be a take two or even more. It is probably for this reason that digital cameras tend to be empowering.
Alam shares that during his visit in a Sri Lankan town that was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, his digital camera had helped him warm up with the survivors. As he notes about a girl, Shanika, who lost her mother and sisters and who became so afraid of the sea: “It was my digital camera which changed things. Most people in the sub-continent love being photographed. The joy of seeing her own image instantly brought a smile to Shanika’s face, and soon we were friends. She took photographs of her dad, her aunt and of me. Soon she was taking photographs of me by the sea, but telling me to be careful!”
To a certain extent, it can be said that it is a raw medium of documenting history for images are more difficult to contest than words. Yet the outputs of a digital camera can also be altered, with the help of editing tools or by merely deleting unwanted pictures that the pictures would no longer be as honest and complete as they seem.
It can also be said that the digital camera has placed narcissism and voyeurism to the next level. Those who have accounts on facebook will not miss the dozens and hundreds of pictures (depending on the number of her or his friends) posted throughout the day. Many of them consist of the same people in the same location or event. But for some theorists, such redundancy and amateurism are unimportant, that what matters instead is the very freedom of people in defining fun, love, friendship and others in their own terms.
As Beck Jorgensen asserts, “The point is to recognize that the everyday, on the one hand, is the site of the utterly superficial and repetitive that we need to respect for the sense of security it gives and on the other hand, potentially is the site major personal and societal change.”
New Lens, Old Eyes
Despite the potentials of digital cameras in effecting personal and social changes more conveniently and democratically, the very production, consumption and dissemination of photos are not free of personal biases and social dimensions such as gender, class, ethnicity, especially as the accessibility of this medium has heightened those desires and pleasures that operate in societies of spectacles.
In 2007, the country was wracked by the so-called “kissing scandal” involving two actors, a woman who was in a relationship and a man. Albeit the latter took the photo using his mobile phone’s camera, the woman received more than a fair share of backlash especially as she was living with a married billionaire who is old enough to be her father.
Digital or not, such photos are indeed considered trophies of manliness or as film critic Laura Mulvey describes, the first type of scopophilia or that which happens as another person is used as “an object of sexual stimulation through sight.” By themselves the photos of the “kissing scandal” would not have so much value, that it was not imperative to take them in the first place, had it not for a desiring ego and an equally desiring group of spectators – including those who for some reason, were awaiting the woman’s ultimate fall from grace.
The photos can be likened to the otherwise unnecessary erotic scenes in certain films. Bed scenes may not relevant in an adreline-packed action movie as the former merely slow down the momentum of the story.
As Mulvey explains: “The presence of [a] woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of a story-line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation.”
The experience of desire and pleasure is also facilitated by the very mode of their distribution, the internet. The wider the images are disseminated, the more meanings they can assume and the more pleasure they can generate. As Annette Kuhn points out, “Meanings do not reside in the images…: they are circulated between representation, spectator and social formation.”
Ownership of digital cameras is also a matter of class. Although a digital camera may now be purchased for as P8,995 (For Olympus FE-20 and Olympus FE 310), it is still a luxury for a minimum wage earner who is based in Metro Manila and who earns P8,404 a month, at the most.
Class likewise informs the images in a digital camera. Although it can be said that much of personal photos are centered on the owners of the digital camera, it cannot be denied that such gadget has facilitated a touristic voyeur, allowing “other” cultures to be in “fixity” as Homi Bhabha puts it or simply, stereotyped.
Moreover, it can be a tool of capturing “monstrosities” that are in abundance in rural areas or in the developing world in general. Images of people sleeping in card board boxes or a child defecating outside the makeshift house perched on a river riprap or children salvaging pagpag out of a mountain of trash are just some images, which for American photographer Jacob Riis, remind the elite of their social responsibility but for Southern feminist Gayatri Spivak, too insulting to be a source of spiritual nourishment for the First World.
*Nina Somera is post-graduate student of Comparative Literature in the University of the Philippines. The essay is a paper she wrote for her Anthropology class on media and culture.
She is also a resident editor of praxis books. Nina Somera is a feminist activist and works for Isis International, a feminist NGO committed to creating spaces within information and communications structures and systems, that promote the many voices of women, particularly those from the South. However, this paper reflects her personal views and analysis.
She can be reached at: email@example.com
Alam, Shahidul. (2005). “The Human Spirit.”
Bhabha, Homi. (1996) “The Other Question” in Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Edited by Padmini Mongia. London and New York: Hodder Headline Group.
DOLE (2008). “TABLE 20 – Minimum Wage Rates by Sector and Region,
Philippines: As of March 2009.”
Eagleton, Terry. (1996). Literary Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Goldberg, Vicki (1995). “Photographic View: Looking at the Poor in a Gilded Frame.”
Hermes, Joke. (2005). “Media, Meaning and Everyday Life.” in Media Studies: A Reader. Edited by Paul Marris and Sue Thornham. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
IRRI Images Photostream.
Kuhn, Annette. (2005). “The Power of the Image” in Media Studies: A Reader. Edited by Paul Marris and Sue Thornham. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
Mulvey, Laura. (1975). “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.”
Philippine Entertainment Portal. (2007). “Claudine Barretto, Reacted about John and Gretchen Kissing Picture.”
Severino, Howie (2009). “Mayhem in May.”
Spivak, Gayatri (1988). In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. New York and London: Routledge.
Villman. (2009). Prices of Digital Cameras.
Zone Zero. (2005). “Shahidul Alam.”
Carnival of Resistance, June 2009
Event, space, moment, process!
An annual three day convergence of souls striving for nirvana!
When? How about January 2010?
Keywords: Lets see if you guess it right! ………………..feminism, capitalism, neo-liberalism, obamaism, consumerism, TNCs, corporate grooms and slaves (only if they knew!), text book marxism, love, phulbari, coffee, rivers, dating, climate change, new politics, sex, butterflies, jeans, commodity, palestine, coke, Subcommander Marcos, rain, facebook, war on terror, militarization of CHT, remittance, dejuice, LGBT, profit, exploitation, accumulation, rights, water, kalpana chakma, RMG, responsibilities, english medium, pleasure, China, private universities, Lalon, Israel, YouTube, madrasa, empathy, rock, folk, pants, Iraq, lungi, war crimes trial, saree, Tv, theater, protest, solidarity, patriarchy, sexism, racism, militarism, masculinity, yasmin, India, friendship, solidarity, KFC…………………….fill in the blanks!
City: Dhaka, this time. Next? Invite us to your cities (we have a bit of urban bias) and brinndabons!
Visuals and spectators: Ok, we are talking about film screening! Don’t only be an onlooker! How long do you want to keep on purchasing “pirated” DVDs? Make your own film and send to us (we don’t mind receiving grainy clips made by cell phone cams…take command of your gadgets).
Concert: Noise is political! Shouts and murmurs! Guitars and ektars! Be yourself, don’t just try to imitate bauls. Warning: MTV clones go somewhere else!
Theatre: Bodies, space, lights and shadows!
Exhibitionism (a little bit of it isn’t that bad): photo, cartoon, posters, subversive art, and effigies (should be fun to burn it afterward, if its George the Bush…we have to wait a couple of years before we can safely burn Obama effigies…hope is so infectious)!
Rally: Don’t worry, we won’t do it on a sunny day when the city is on boiling point. Its not our fault if you forget to bring your raincoats! Disclaimer: fossil fuel fumes emitted by Japanese cars may cause respiratory and other health complications.
Talk-shop: Come out of your cocoon! Leave your stage fright behind, talk, just talk! We will listen, promise!
Fellow conspirators: YOU, and , Leela, Solidarity Workshop, Lokoj Institute, Binirman Andolon, praxis books, Gramsci Institute, Leela School of Cultural Studies…who said we are a bunch of closed door geeks?
Just appear, reclaim your space!
Interested to translate (english to bangla) books and essays of critical importance? We are looking for people who have an interest in politics.
Flexible timeline and generous compensation package promised.
Interested? Please drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read, write, translate, resist!
Democracy Now, May 29, 2009
Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama’s Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with “Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone”
Democracy Now spends the hour with one of Latin Americas most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist recently made headlines around the world when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave President Obama a copy of Galeanos classic work, The Open Veins of Latin America. Eduardo Galeanos latest book is Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. Democracy Now speaks to Galeano about his reaction to the Chavez-Obama book exchange, media and politics in Latin America, his assessment of Obama, and more. [read rush transcript]
Part # 1
Part # 2
Part # 3
Part # 4
By Rahnuma Ahmed* NewAge, February 16, 2009
‘Still pictures are not still…,’ said Mahasweta Devi. She was in Dhaka to inaugurate Chobi Mela V and, fortunately for us, had expressed her wish to put up with Shahidul Alam, the director of Chobi Mela. Having Mahasweta Devi, and Joy Bhadra, a young writer and her companion, as house guests, was a ‘happening’. I will write about that another day.
Mahasweta Devi consistently used the words stheer chitro (exact translation is, ‘still images’). Still pictures, she went on, inspire us. They move us. They make us do things.
However, I thought to myself, many who are working on visual and cultural theory may not agree. Some would be likely to say, things are not as simple as that.
Palestinians wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Beit Eiba, outside the Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on February 9. — AFP photo
The effect of visual images needs to be investigated
THE debate about the power of visual images has become stuck on the point of the meaning of visual images, on the truth of images. This, said David Campbell, a professor of cultural and political geography, doesn’t get us very far. He was one of the panellists at the opening night’s discussion of Chobi Mela V, held at the Goethe Institut auditorium (‘Engaging with photography from outside: An informal discussion between a geographer, an editor and a curator/funder of photography’, January 30).
David went on, it is much better to focus on the effect of images, on the function of images, on the work that images do – and that, is how the debate should be framed. At present, attention is overly-focused on the single image, and what we expect of the single image. By doing this we have invested it with too much possibility, we place too much hope on its ability to bring about social change. The effect of visual images needs to be investigated, rather than assumed.
Amy Yenkin, another panellist in the programme, and head of the Documentary Photography project at the Open Society Institute asked David, Why do you think this happens? Is it because people look back at certain iconic images, let’s say images from the Vietnam war that changed the situation, that they try to put too much meaning in the power of one single image…? David replied, ‘In a way, I am sceptical of the power of single images, a standard 6 or 7 in the western world, that are repeated all the time. I was personally affected by the Vietnam war images, by the image of the young Vietnamese girl fleeing from a napalm bomb, but I don’t know of any argument that actually demonstrates that Nick Ut’s photograph demonstrably furthered the Vietnam anti-war movement.’ He went on, ‘Now, I don’t regard that as a failure of the image, but a failure of the interpretation that we’ve placed on the image. It puts too much burden on the image itself.’
The discussion was followed by Noam Chomsky and Mahasweta Devi’s video-conference discussion on Freedom (Chobi Mela V’s theme), and I became fully immersed in watching two of the foremost public intellectual/activists of today talk about the meanings and struggles of freedom, and of imperialism and nationalism’s attempts to thwart it in common people’s lives.
But the next day, my thoughts returned to what David had said, and to the general discussion that had followed. On David’s website, I came across how he understands photography, ‘a technology through which the world is visually performed,’ and a gist of his theoretical argument. I quote: ‘The pictures that the technology of photography produces are neither isolated nor discrete objects. They have to be understood as being part of networks of materials, technologies, institutions, markets, social spaces, emotions, cultural histories and political contexts. The meaning of photographs derives from the intersection of these multiple features rather than just the form and content of particular pictures.’ (http: //www.david-campbell.org/photography/).
In other words, to understand what happens within the frame, we need to go outside the frame.
Abu Ghraib photographs: concealing more than they reveal
A GOOD instance is provided by the Abu Ghraib prison torture and abuse photographs taken by US military prison guards with digital cameras, which came to public attention in early 2004. The pictures, says Ian Buruma, conceal more than they reveal. By telling one story, they hide a bigger story.
Images of Chuck Graner, Ivan Frederick and the others as ‘gloating thugs’ helped single out, and fix, low-ranking reservist soldiers as the bad apples. As President Bush intoned, it was ‘disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonoured our country and disregarded our values.’ None of the officers were tried, though several received administrative punishment. As a matter of fact, the Final Report of the Independent Panel to Review Department of Defence Detention Operations specifically absolved senior US military and political leadership from direct culpability. Some even received promotions (Major General Walter Wodjakowski, Colonel Marc Warren, Major General Barbara Fast).
The gloating digital images, no doubt embarrassing for the US administration, probably helped ‘far greater embarrassments from emerging into public view.’ They made ‘the lawyers, bureaucrats, and politicians who made, or rather unmade, the rules—William J Haynes, Alberto Gonzales, David S Addington, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Douglas J Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney—look almost respectable.’
But there is another aspect to the story of concealing-and-revealing. Public preoccupation with Abu Ghraib pornography deflected attention from the ‘torturing and the killing that was never recorded on film,’ and from finding out who ‘the actual killers’ were. By singling out those visible in the pictures as the ‘rogues’ responsible, it concealed the bigger reality. That the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris point out, ‘was de facto United States policy.’
Lynndie England, who held the rank of Specialist while serving in Iraq, expressed it best I think, when she said, ‘I didn’t make the war. I can’t end the war. I mean, photographs can’t just make or change a war.’
True. Photographs can’t just make or change a war. But surely they do something, or else, why censor images of the recent slaughter in Gaza? To put it more precisely, surely, those who are powerful (western politicians, journalists, arms manufacturers, defence analysts, all deeply embedded in the Zionist Curtain, one that has replaced the older Iron Curtain) apprehend that the visual images of Gaza will do something? That they will, in all probability, have a social effect upon western audiences? And therefore, these must be acted upon, i.e. their circulation and distribution must be prevented.
At times, their apprehension seems to move even further. Images-not-yet-taken are prevented from being taken. Probable social effects of unborn images are foreseen, and aborted.
Censoring Gaza images, for what they reveal
ALL of this happened in the case of Gaza. But before turning to that, I would like to add a small note on the notion of probability. I am inclined to think that it’ll help to deepen our understanding of the politics of visual images.
As the organisers of a Michigan university conference on English literature remind us (‘Fictional Selves: On the (im)Probability of Character’, April 2002), the notion of probability went through a major conceptual shift with the emergence of modernity. What in the seventeenth century had meant ‘the capability of being proven absolutely true or false’ as in the case of deductive theorem in logic, gradually altered in meaning as practitioners searched for rhetorical consensus, and the repeatability of experimental results, leading to its present-day meaning: ‘a likelihood of occurring.’
What might have occurred if Israel had allowed journalists into Gaza? What might have occurred if the BBC instead of hiding under the pretence of ‘impartiality’ had agreed to air the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza Aid Appeal aimed at raising humanitarian aid for (occupied and besieged) Gazans? What might have occurred if the USA’s largest satellite television subscription service DIRECTV had gone ahead and aired the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine’s ‘Gaza Strip TV Ad’?
Could pictures of Israel’s 22-day carnage in Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, have sown doubts in western minds about the Israeli claim of targeting only Hamas, and not civilians? Could photos of bombed UN buildings, mosques, schools, a university, of hospitals in ruins, ambulances destroyed, of dismembered limbs and destroyed factories have forced the BBC’s viewers to question whether both sides are to blame? Could pictures of the apartheid wall, the security zone, the checkpoints controlling entry of food, trade, medicine (for over two years) make suspect the Israeli claim that it had withdrawn from Gaza? Could photos depicting the effects of mysterious armaments that have burned their way down into people’s flesh, eaten their skin and tissue away, have given western viewers pause for thought? Could the little story of Israel acting only in self-defence, begin to unravel? Could pictures of Gaza in ruins have led American viewers to wonder whether there is a bigger story out there, and could it then lead them to ask why their taxes are being spent in footing Israel’s military bill (the fourth largest army in the world), to ask why they should continue to sponsor this parasitical state, even when its own economy is in ruins?
After all, as Mahasweta Devi had said, still pictures are not still. Still pictures (may) move us. They (may) make us do things.
The powerful, know this.
*Rahnuma Ahmed is an anthropologist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Conversations with History, University of California-Berkeley
Recorded October 2, 2008
Talal Asad, Professor of Anthropology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Professor Talal Asad who reflects on his life and work as an anthropologist focusing on religion, modernity, and the complex relationships between Islam and the West.
Let’s have an activist hermeneutic–or, say, hermeneutics as praxis. Let’s read the moments that surround us, that oppress us, and that also enable us to be oppositional. The kinds of readings that merely generate self-justifying, self-satisfying ‘pleasures of the text’ (we ain’t opposed to pleasure, though–hell no!), while fetishizing textuality and thereby disabling activism, don’t interest us. So, yeah, let’s read, write, resist by all means.
The Familial Order, Not Easily Undone (bilingual: English and Bangla) by Rahnuma Ahmed, Anthropologist
A Primer on the Wall Street Meltdown (bilingual: Bangla & English) by Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South
On the Question of Free Trade, Karl Marx & Frederick Engels
Bangla translation of Why Investment Matters by Kavaljit Singh, Public Interest Research Centre
The US Financial Meltdown: Roots of the Economic Crisis in Overaccumulation, Financialisation and Global Apartheid by Patrick Bond, Director, Centre for Civil Society, and Research Professor, School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Phulbari Resistance! (tentatively titled), Edited by Zakir Kibria & Pieter Jansen
‘Wetlands vs. Drylands’: Explaining the Retreat from Flood Control in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta of Bangladesh by Shapan Adnan, South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore
Lectures on the Ancient System of Irrigation in Bengal and Its Application to Modern Problems by Sir William Willcocks (Bangla translation)
Undermining Abundance: Counterproductive Uses of Technology and Law in Nature, Agriculture, and the Information Sector by Roberto Verzola
A (Crumbling) Wall of Money: Financial Bricolage, Derivatives and Power by Nicholas Hildyard, The Cornerhouse
Climate Crisis: Social Science Crisis by Larry Lohman, The Cornerhouse
Modern Power and the Reconfiguration of Religious Traditions: Interview with Talal Asad (bilingual: English and Bangla)
Dispute Over Managing Common Rivers: Bangladesh-India relations in the troubled water of political mistrust by Nurul Kabir, Editor, NewAge