9.14.19

This is the month of eventual palindromes. How many will there be?

Autumn leaves on a New York sewer.

I thought the idea of a visual palindrome was original, and I went through a phase where I made a few every day. I always saw relationships between visual elements and literary mechanisms as well as musical machinations.

Musical machinations might make an awesome alliterative title for something.

Anyway, I tried to tell people not to spend their time watching other photographers, to no avail. Photographers, especially street photographers are a competitive bunch. In gerneral the up-and-comers were especially annoying, reminding me of the hired hands in guitar shops that were really there to show you how cool they were and that it was just a matter of time before their band was discovered.

If you look at most of the visual palindromes I made you’ll see that they began as palindromes but were altered is subtle ways afterwards.

The fascination went back to film days where your negatives were usually a surprise. You took a picture or a few pictures in the morning. Continued on to your day job (in my case programming) and thought about that moment you had missed or had you? You wouldn’t know until you got home, set-up the film darkroom in the bathroom, shoved a towel over the crack between – actually, first you brought down the black curtain that covered the one window in the joint, then turned all the lights out.

In the winter it was already dark outside which made it all easier – and then back to the bathroom door and the shoved towel – to let the cat in was a bad idea, he would want to play with the unspooled film, which meant locking Buddy out, and Buddy would have a paw pushing at the towel under the door the whole time… at least until the film was in the tank.

Then you could open the bathroom door, and start make Buddy happy. Cats, as you probably want to know everything that’s going on, not matter whether it has anything to do with them or not.

So Buddy, an Orange street cat, would get to jump on the edge of the bathtub and watch me mix the various chemicals and then turn the developing tank over every minute for 8 or 9 minutes.

Buddy and I both found this interesting. God only knows why. Maybe because you were thinking, or trying to think of all the possibles that were on those rolls.

And eventually you’d have to kick the cat out (sorry Buddy) so you could hang the strips without Buddy swiping at them. I know he was just trying to be helpful, but cats paws (not to mention hairs) on the wet film was not going to work for anyone.

In other words, you wouldn’t know if you’d got the thing transfixed until you saw the negative.

Palindrome visuals brought back that sense of mindful imagination. You would have to imagine various “straight images” as palindromes, but you wouldn’t really know what it was going to look like until you did the transformation.

In general time and waiting are the things that feel like they’re missing from contemporary digital photography. But maybe that’s just a reaction that the glass platers had when small 35mm film came along. It was just a different aesthetic.

I think many modern photographers make new images such as huge panoramas based on the same principle, i.e you don’t really know if you got it until you stitch the 50 images together. No cats or towels. No darkness to worry about. The digital world is well immune to any light. And for the most part you get your LIKES right away,

It all takes place in the open. Light is not an enemy of the binary pixel.

The film world was practiced in darkness. Light was usually the enemy. Light and frisky cats were trouble.