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Lately I’ve been playing around with film, in particular slide film, again. Its been a long time and, in a lot of ways, I’ve kind of missed it. Not so much the waiting around for a week, anxiously hoping what comes back from the lab is what you had in mind when you pressed the shutter, but the actual results, the small 35mm celluloid strips, held in your hand raised to the light of the window for a peek at the backward minature of what you’ve shot.
Films a strange medium to use, after years of naught but digital, it came about through a conversation where a friend asked why these iphone apps that make your digital snap shots look all box brownie have become so suddenly popular, which got me to thinking.
The thing with photographs, what’s made them so implicitly fundamental in our lives over the last century and a half or so, is not so much their capacity for reproducing the image in front of them, but their capacity for eliciting a certain feeling within the viewer. That is, the feeling of nostalgia.
Its always been a fascinating aspect of photographs, their ability to connect to that feeling of melancholy lying latent within us all. A photograph from 100 years ago can bring out feelings of warm loss (for what else is nostalgia?) for a time and place we never even knew. For the people we could never possibly have met…
Digital is, by wont of engineering and the quest of capitalism for the truly sanitized spectacle, a very very smooth medium, at least when done properly. I’m not saying this is only applicable in digital, film grains were getting finer for years – I guess that’s just technological directionism – but its certainly advancing a lot quicker.
Memories are, and I’m sure I’ve banged on about this before, by their very nature not smooth, perfectly exposed entities. They’re not in high definition and, unless evolution takes us into cybernetic implantation as the next step, they never will be. They are, however, grainy, faded and often under exposed. An image projected on to a thin floating synaptic sheet, a soft focus of feeling.
At least, that’s my tuppence worth.