Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home Again

Yesterday's flight from Dallas to California offered some great views of the Grand Canyon, the sunset, and the clouds. I like this photo because it reminds me of my late father. When I was growing up (and we lived in Memphis and Denver), he was often on planes for business trips. This was the era of carousel slide projectors and Ektachrome film, and we 4 kids and my mom spent some long evenings watching his slide shows of our family road/camping trips--and of his air travel. He loved to take photographs out of plane windows. Some turned out better than others (or maybe some of those jet wings and engines were meant to be the subject, rather than the distraction, in those aerial views?) At any rate, I have fond memories of my mother, older brother, and I laughing and rolling our eyes at all the "wing shots" he took and developed into slides. He would have loved the convenience and flexibility of digital photography--especially the delete button.

While we were at UNT, I visited the art gallery at the student union (killing time while MP2 completed freshman orientation). Two, very different photography shows were featured. One showcased the work of a student who had done quite a bit of international travel (and the photos were great), but the other one was really clever. The concept behind it was to demonstrate the evolution of popular cameras and photography, from the earliest box cameras (e.g. Kodak Brownies) to more recent, but equally user-friendly and affordable cameras (e.g. disposables). Rather than featuring photos of exotic subject matters, the curator selected vernacular subjects and themes, of the sort that common people (amateur photographers) would have traditionally focused their lenses upon (birthday parties, cars, etc). The show was comprised of about 12 such photographs, each taken (by her) with a different camera (some of which had been available only in the Soviet Union or Japan or Germany). They were then hung in chronological order, according to the production date for the camera.

The brilliant finishing touch to this exhibit involved the label production and format. Using an old rotary label-maker (1960s vintage?) and 3 different colors of that old peel-off label tape (blue for the title, orange for the type of camera, and yellow for the place and year of the photograph)--she affixed the relevant information in systematic order to 12 plain white index cards--thus carrying the concept of vernacular forms and mass-marketed technologies through to the very labels themselves. Super smart idea.

Today, life is all about piles of laundry and mail, and a grad student for whom I am a 2nd reader who apparently has finished her thesis and needs it read by, oh--say, yesterday. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

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