Way before Photoshop was ever conceived of I use to spend some time in a dark room I put together while still a high school student. I would shoot 35mm black and white tri-x or pan-x film (terms of antiquity), develop the negatives then work at creating a print. I tried to make the prints evocative of the shape and patterns of the world around me. This was when I was approaching adulthood and a lot of the world seemed to swirl around me in a meaningless way. Maybe I was creating beacons for an older me. It would be nice to think that after so many years. Ego beacons bobbing up occasionally to tweak my normal, obsessively linear view of time.
I ran across an old acquaintance on Facebook and remembered that I had a few old images that he may want to see. While rummaging about to find them I came across several others from that era. This is one. One that I had created in the darkroom. It has it’s fair share of faults I guess but they show that it was hand crafted.
A lot was going on back then especially around that park. It’s a long story, but people were hurt, arrested, the cops rioted. I don’t know the woman in the foreground but her expression seemed to sum up some of what was going on. I scanned the print just as I found it, I didn’t even take it out of the old album page for fear of damaging it.
Once I put it on the scanner I realized that I was about to make some choices that would effect this new version of this old image. A couple of images had been formed on negative film. I chose the paper and exposure, dodging and burning to create the print, showed it around for a while then slid it into a page in an album. Years later I’m back to deciding how it will look again. I suppose your monitor affects the image you are seeing. Since I’m making choices I could “correct” some spots, old marks and flares, white fossils of a loose hair and lithe puddles from developer and fixer. No, I’ll pretend that this is a true representation of what I hold in my hand.
Once scanned I can zoom in. I see a pattern in a detail that I had never seen before.
Brachia like shadows across her face pattern her expression.
And reach down her neck and throat. Tattoo foreshadow? Something tactile in this image, a smooth surface covered in random texture. Marshall McLuhan wrote of this phenomena, the frisson created. He referred to fishnet stockings on a smooth leg. This is more ominous. It is with trepidation that one approaches adulthood. A knighthood of sorts, not to be taken lightly. Nevertheless a font from which so much will and has flowed.