Sunday, September 17, 2006

Object / Photograph

In 1993 I found a box of these glass slides in Santa Paula, California. I was immediately attracted to the images portrayed in them. I bought the ones that I found most interesting. They were produced by the Keystone View Company of Pennsylvania, USA, which by the 1920’s was the world leader in global images. In a way the Keystone View Co. was the visual cultural recorder of the developing world during the beginning of the 20th century.

Using large format cameras, these positive transparencies show great sharpness and are free of distortions.

Thinking about this slide today, I was reflecting on why I found these slides so attractive. First and foremost they are artifacts which you can hold in your hand. Then the photo, is like a fossil record of time passed. When a photograph is old enough, time-spacing occurs in it, when we can no longer perceive the referent as real, but rather as something so removed from us like an old vision existing in our memory. Looking at an enlargement of the slide, I notice that the photographer was careful not to show any people in it, as his intention was to focus on the architecture, the locale. So the photo shows emptiness or a void which parallels the void that remains from this city floating forever in time, in our memory, or as a stratum in human existence.
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