Wednesday, 28 July 2010


...reading the news and it sure looks bad….

That’s Joni Mitchell, possibly echoing the Beatles.  If you read the news today, oh boy, plane crashes, oil spills, Wikileaks and losing battles on every front.  It is like everything is seeped in filthy black oil – the plane wreckage, the birds, and Afghanistan are all drenched in the stuff.

Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and Arizona.  Sarah Palin.

I’m overloaded.  I know it.  It’s starting to show up physically in exhaustion and a frozen shoulder.  All of my symptoms say the same thing.  Slow the frak down.

Luckily, there’s a cure for that.  Time to go un-digital.  Analog, baby.

It occurred to me at the Lomography store how incredibly satisfying it is to load a roll of film into one of those cameras.  They’re just little plastic boxes – they don’t have much going for them, really, but they also don’t stand in the way of your experience.  It’s very tactile, loading a roll of film.  You need to feel it slide in, you need to feel the sprocket click, you need to just know that it’s in place, because once you close that door, you don’t want to open it again, or you’ll fog part or possibly all of the film. 

Once you’ve shot it, it’s even worse – you have to unroll the film while it’s behind the door.  You have to feel that you’ve unlocked it, then feel that it’s rolling back and then feel your way to knowing that it’s finished.  Now if you open that door and it’s not all the way back in its case, you’ll lose your photos.

That's DJ Jedi spinning.  I think he won't mind I stole this pic off the web.
I first learned how to load, shoot, and develop film in my 5th and 6th grade class with teacher Marion Grief.  She just handed us all little cameras and out we went.  It’s something that stayed with me, made me more comfortable with those little boxes than with other machines.  It’s magic, but it's practical magic – magic you can see if you look carefully.

Analog is the slow food movement and vinyl and skateboards, it is taking a bath instead of tweeting, it is meeting a friend for a drink instead of texting.  It is going shopping instead of clicking and pointing for your next purchase.

Analog is taking a walk and noting the scents of each block, from lavender to rose, to too many dogs in one spot.  Analog is pen to paper. 

The language of love is analog, and I hope won’t ever be digital.

I’ve got nothing against digital – I love iTunes and I want a new computer and an iPod, I love the ability I have to be at home virtually anywhere because my laptop is my home and office and repository for all things me.

We just can’t forget we’re still people and our little chemical boxes seem to require us to periodically check in with our senses in profound and detailed ways.

Analog derives from a word meaning proportionate.  This may be a key signal of its effect on us as humans.  We didn’t mean to, perhaps, but when we went digital from analog, we may have lost our sense of proportion.  We simply spun out.

Like that roll of film, maybe it’s time to spin back in.  Very carefully.  You don’t want to ruin any memories.

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