A short film I made with footage taken in California, Philadelphia, Texas and New York.
I love the way disposable film turns out: soft, fuzzy, warm, bright.
Like describing vintage in hues–
Like if nostalgic were a look, it’d be this.
There’s something called the uncanny valley, “the hypothesis that human replicas that appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion.” It’s the intersection between realness and artificiality that unnerves and disturbs. The Uncanny Valley’s always intrigued me–what’s it about creepy humanoid likeness that disgusts, fascinates, weirds us out?
35mm film. Processed and developed by hand.
I found a panda-headed stranger in Urban Outfitters wearing a tiger shirt. She turned; I snapped. Funny things you’ll find in the city.
35 mm film, developed and processed by hand.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; Freud theorizes that we all harbor some childhood wound we’re all seeking to recreate. Mistake one, mistake two, mistake three, mistake four. But four wasn’t insanity. And four wasn’t an old wound. Four was, instead, ironically, cheesily, gradually then all at once, one of the best things to happen. A summery wish granted, a wintry curiosity piqued: reflections in the water (I did it again I did it again I did it again)
God, I love shooting with disposable cameras. There’s an art to shooting film: getting perfect shots are a crapshoot, so experiment; humans are better photographed candid than posed; keep subjects far away so they won’t be blurred; there has to be just enough spontaneity to really make the photo.
There’s an ineffable quality to disposables that I have difficulty putting into words. I can’t explain the beauty of it except that there just is.
For a while, I associated disposables with old school, low quality shit, elementary-school days. Times when phone cameras weren’t a thing, and real cameras were too valuable to let kids use. So they gave us these cheap hunks of plastic to take onto field trips and ruin. Fast forward ten years and now I love disposables; I drool over experimental film. And I don’t think I’m the only one enamored with film aesthetic. Polaroids, the high-end cool sister of disposables, are ‘in’. VSCO and Instagram, popular iPhone apps, emulate traditional film with filters, light leaks, etc. At some point, though, light leaks weren’t a deliberate digital effect on photos; they were film ‘mistakes’.
Usually I find that the less planning, the better. Which, initially, might be counterintuitive. Unlike with digital cameras, you can’t photograph a hundred images and delete the worst. You have a limited number of shots, and you won’t know how they turn out until they’re developed. But meticulously planning photos, whether with iPhones or DSLRs, takes me out of the moment. I’m more concerned about the image than the scene, the post than the place. Film’s quick, immediate, doesn’t give me time to ruminate or edit or post. It’s more fun to keep an eye out for interesting places, odd angles, messy spaces, take the shot, and go.
Oftentimes, the photos turn out better than I’d have imagined. It’s a little hit-or-miss, but the best film photos are better than their digital counterparts.
As I was cleaning the house, I stumbled upon college brochures to universities I ended up not going to. Meanwhile, the house had erupted in dust, my nose was running up a storm and I sat there wondering what this feeling might be called.
It reminded me of a site called the dictionary of obscure sorrows. True to its name, it includes obscure sorrow after obscure sorrow, from exulansis [n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate] to altschmerz [n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had.] Note: completely on empathy-board with the second one, particularly at 3AM as I jotted down: there’s no time elapsing space passing I’m just lying here still paralyzed and wishing–
And I wondered if there was a term for the sense of “would have, could have, should have (didn’t)”. Would have taken this path, could have gone down that road, should have backtracked, but in the end I didn’t. Every second, it seems, we’re veering left-right-and-center onto multiple forks on this road o’ life, making decisions that culminate into this giant knot of now. And now I’m wondering small thoughts like oh, what if I’d gone to this school? Been on this campus? What if, instead of being surrounded by city and lights, I’d been surrounded by, oh, trees and school buses? And maybe I’d have felt different but maybe I’d have felt the same, but I don’t think I’d be the same or that I’d be who I am now.
And I think that’s okay.
Sometimes there’s a voice in my head quoting something I must have read, and it goes: “has it ever occurred to you that maybe you are exactly where are you supposed to be?” Well. Not really. But then again, maybe I am and we all are, y’know, right where we’re supposed to be….
So despite whatever obscure sorrow this has yet to be coined, I look back and like to believe that there’s purpose, if not order. And even though sometimes the world seems to be blowing to shit and we’re huddled in fear and sadness and so much fear I think back to a poem I read and saved when I was 17:
as a reminder
the world is heavy but your bones (just a cubic inch) can hold 19,000 lbs
ounce for ounce
they are stronger than steel
atom for atom
you are more precious than diamond
and stars have died
so that you may live