So, What’s going on then?

Real photo­graphs, real film, mechanical camera thingy. Ay? Why?

OK, I’ve been thinking about this: it seems there are at least three things going on here. Three scams. Three cons. Three lies.

There’s the illusion of choice, there’s “democrat­isation” and there’s the delusion of perfect­ib­ility.

Consumer capit­alism is predicated on the pivot of choice: you CAN buy this (can’t you? — look at this ad, this promo, this review) … or not. If you don’t buy; that’s your choice. Whether you can actually afford it is neither relevant nor irrel­evant it is simply not acknow­ledged, accepted or even recog­nised … no other altern­ative exists.
So — I cannot afford a better camera but I can afford A camera and a lot of people can’t. End of.

To make images as memorable, meaningful and powerful; as engaging, exciting and charming; as art-histor­ically engaged, culturally hip and polit­ically pointed; as nuanced, as subtle and as emotionally engaged, as THEY do, all you need to do is: be true to yourself and buy our best kit.
You must not listen to the old fogies who tell you that there are technical camera skills you need to acquire, art history you need to study, people skills you need to hone and a socio-envir­on­mental-political stance you need to at least start to define. Not to mention the practice you need to put in, practice and show and listen (and sometimes reject or ignore what they say) and then listen again and do it again and loop round and round and round and so on and on and so on.
And who is this self we are supposed to be true to — do you know? I don’t. And I really don’t care.
But we can do this shit without buying anything at all. Bastards we are and we can learn and get better.
And sometimes just take a picture with a “different” camera in exactly the same way way we might with our bloody phone.

Then there is the perfect prime: the lens that can …
The perfect camera that could … or at least a better one …
There is always the plastic surgery that might …
The mind-fullness that … the wellness … the fitness … the will … ah, the will. The will to get x, to take y, to claim my birth­right as a Randian Übermensch … or to just be a slave to a system that drip feeds us answers and solutions to our dreams and fears and cravings … or is it Soma.
When you send a film away, as we always used to, unlike the profes­sional who always kept control, other people make all the decisions that are left and they don’t edit, they don’t choose but do choose how to print, how to maximise the inform­ation, how to present the “idea” — we’re left with a fait accompli — and does that leave us any less autonomous, empowered or embodied? Like we’re caring about this?
They are so focused on the con and the take and the rewards that they don’t have the time to worry about this shit, never mind the consequences. Would you, would I?

So we can say no.
We will use the tools we have at our disposal. And we will learn their limit­a­tions and their joys. This camera was really quite good when I was a kid and it still is. Ansel Adams couldn’t dream of … oh yes he could … and digital is just beginning to … and is this really what matters when we start to contex­tu­alise with Instagram and Flickr and Facebook and whatever … Whatever. If you speak with an accent is what you say any less valid?

Oh, and there’s something else too, alluded to in the way I scanned the photo­graphs: they’re things, in the world, in our world, touchy feely lovely things we can hold in our hands, inter­rogate and, if we want: put on the wall — they are ours.

And we will tell our friends and our families our own stories.
And we will tell you to fuck off.

Time slip

n mohican
click to enlarge

The Last of the Mohicans.

I’m in lurve … with a camera … sheesh. That is soooooooooo sad.

And it’s Fox Talbot’s 217th birthday too … ta da! And he was a very contem­porary knob too, oh well — bastard child of Paul McCartney and Adobe Systems. A few weeks ago we went out with an old Zeiss Ikon Nettar (a gift from my mother-in-law with film courtesy of my mother — ah, more inter-gener­a­tional slippage) to see how well it worked … if it worked at all …

click to enlarge

And then sent the films off and waited and waited and waited … like in the olden days …

And after an eternity, they came back; beautiful silvery things that they are.
These are pretty rudimentary scans but …
Now I might just dig out that enlarger that lurks somewhere beyond the event horizon of our garage.
I need to guess better at focusing, need to increase the exposure and need to frame tighter but OMG, they’re lovely.

click to enlarge

Slow food, vinyl and now this … be riding around on a steel fixie next, getting tattoos and doing some authentic artisanal disrupting clone shit. Errr, no.
Fair enough, so what the fuck is it?
They have a strangely hypnotic quality — I, at least, can look at them for so long, exploring in a way that I don’t do on screen.
The frame, and perhaps the square format, makes you feel like you’re looking through a portal into … somewhere else. Not AT something and not the past but some other dimension.
Technically, there’s no visible grain, absolutely continuous tones that make them look almost liquid and a pretty shallow depth of field that seems closer to our roving attention.

click to enlarge

Well, anticip­ation helps and weirdly — not being able to choose, edit or alter them perhaps makes you make different choices when you take them. Certainly the little time in setting the camera up before each shot helps you to focus too.
The square frame, so different from wide screen, the black and white, so different from super saturated digital, both obviously set them apart from the everyday but it almost feels as though I didn’t take them … strange.

So much more to explore.
When the bloody rain stops.