June 21, 2015

A Roll of Film/Dream Segment

A little over one year ago, I bought an old camera bag at a flea market. Inside was a Canon AT-1 (fully un-automatic), a few lenses, a flash, and some junky filters. Since, then I’ve taken a few dozen rolls of film. Doesn’t sound like much, but with the passage of time that comes with shooting film, frame-by-frame, each roll that passes is like a part of a dream.

It’s said by some that time is only apparent to the viewer — to the person observant of things and their changing conditions. Say, when you dream the long dream — the ones that seem to span over years or decades, what passes in ten minutes during your sleep may span 20 years. It is a different passage of time yet no less real. Waking up to find that none of the dreamed events occurred can be unsettling.

This is like a roll of film. Twenty-four, or thirty-six images painstakingly remembered for no reason other than at the time it seemed important to allow the light before the lens interact with the film. That’s all.

There are constraints. When the roll ends, the time ends. Nothing can come after this. When it is too dark, I have to light a candle and hold it close; I am are required to illuminate. When things are moving fast, I have to move with them or simply let them pass by. A blue train, a man running across the street with a paper bag and a cellphone — we have to let them pass out of our lives. Some of my biggest regrets over the last year are: letting an old man on a bicycle pass my lens by a split-second, leaving the lens-cap on during a series of Holga shots of prostitutes, letting a flash die before my friend took the stage.

Some things are too large to fit into the lens, so you can only capture part of it — the cow’s legs, the lampshade and not the lamp, the snake’s tail and not the snake. You have to be in love with what you can get, and not what you miss. This is what I have, so make it speak. I have a pigpen, pile of cords, a friend’s hand. I have the pavement and its ugly texture, treetops, traffic, rotting bananas. Shoot them. It is where I live and what I live among. Why should I not remember these things?

Being confined to a small frame is okay with me, as long as I am allowed to let light pass into it.