Sunday, August 2

The Great Swamp of Forgot

Me... Circa. 1972? Agfachrome

The last post was about the Wolverine F2D film to digital converter and a trove of thousands of old slides. This one was an Agfachrome image - most were - it was my favorite color palette. But Agfa, unlike Kodak, did not date-mark their slide mounts. Grumble.

Susan Sontag in her haunting book, On Photography, mused that photographs tend to skip their traces... that regardless of what the artist intended and even described in captions, that time would quickly erase those comments, thoughts, and feelings leaving interpretation entirely up to the viewer.

Someone else wrote that the artist's intent entirely disappeared upon releasing an image into the wild. At the extreme, the least important voice at the moment of viewing, is the artist's. Which brings me to this happy portrait of me up there. I have no data, nor memory to help me with this, not even who pushed the button. 

Art reminds me of what I never saw. Imagination fills in the spaces between the images my brain stores away. The past is sort of in there along with a whole lot of fiction that changes, sinks, floats, and swells every time I poke at it.

Take this slide I plucked from the trove discussed in the last post. That’s not me - but it was – back in the early 70s. When? Where? Why? Dunno. It looks like that guy in the image composed the thing, jumped into the frame and let someone else (who?) trigger the shutter. Am I carrying around any part of what filled that fella’s thoughts and feelings?

Ever heard the term ‘reconsolidation’? It seems to mean that we re-write memories each  time we access them. In a way, memories are works in progress – both perpetual yet ephemeral. We shape the facts to write our story. Is that why memory dims as it matures? Which brings me to this happy portrait of me up there. I have no data, nor memory to help me with this, not even who must have held my camera for the shot. So what was this moment up there all about? There's a great sense of place in that frame without giving any hint about where that place was... or is... or... 

Clue: I've never been anywhere near Ceylon. Well, we went to Eastern Turkey a couple of years ago, and I guess that's on the Asian continent, huh? But this image contains a "Ted" who faded into history thirty or forty years back. Hell, faded? Disappeared into The Great Swamp of Forgot is what happened.

Yet, there's something about the clatter, and clash of color, shape, and form in this moment that's  maybe better than it ever was?

This image is the only evidence of that moment. It's only reality. The camera stopped time in sharp focus, but my memory does neither of those things. 

Does yours? 

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