These photos were taken in Brattleboro, Vermont at the beginning of a 9 month long professional development program in circus. I moved to Vermont without knowing anyone and never having visited before. The world I entered revolved around the circus studio where we trained for hours every day. The space is a circus community hub for town residents, commuters and visiting professionals. Here we prepared for the fulfillment and continuation of our circus dreams through this highly technical and unique art form. Pretty much most of my time was spent working (to make money), working out, watching circus videos, going to circus shows, bitching about and nursing injuries, and getting to know my fellow pro-trackers (people in the prof. development program).
When I first received my roll in the mail I couldn’t decide where to use it. So for the next week it sat, unopened on my desk. Eventually I settled on trying to show the neighborhood in Cincinnati where I grew up, Pleasant Ridge, along with a few friends and even Bicycle Santa.
I speculated endlessly about how best to use my roll of Kodachrome film; all the provocative haunts/scenes at my disposal in the great city of New York. But it rained a gray winter rain for weeks. I didn’t acquire a camera in time, and was too inundated, apparently, by my luxury cat-sitting gig and my writerly brooding to capture any of the city outside my roommate’s Bushwick bedroom walls. The camera arrived just in time, courtesy of my friend Chelsea, who photographed a large portion of the roll, as I was juggling a little too much lipstick and glitter along with my wine, and hadn’t used a ‘real’ camera since high school.
The film turned out amazingly well, given the near-nonexistent lighting in my roommate’s Miss Havisham/Blanche DuBois boudoir. I was struck by the adaptability of the film, its breadth, diversity of tone and light, the sheer richness of the images. These photographs look as if they were taken in another time–a history that extends far deeper than we, children of the Internet Age, can authentically grasp.
The story here isn’t much, though it could be–but to tell one story is to walk blind into a thicket of infinite branching, and to risk losing the source along the way. A short synopsis might read: old college friends get dressed up and stay in Brooklyn apartment because the bars are expensive and the trains and streets are cold. They drink wine, take photos, smoke cigarettes. The light is honey rose, falling on lace-shrouded surfaces, tumults of pale plastic flowers, bright copper weaves. Nomi the kitten (after the Showgirls heroine) slinks in and out of the curling smoke and wrestles the silver jewelry stand to the floor with a crash.
I am so grateful to have these photos. I do not bemoan what they do not capture: the lights of the city upside down in the East River; the bathroom graffiti in Lucy’s bar on Ave. A, Mars Bar, last surviving bastion of the old anarchic/punk spirit of the Lower East Side. I’m not sorry for these or any other photos I did not take. Herein is testament to one of the many entities Time and all our machinations have, without epitaph or homage, quietly buried. Thank you, Jon Wohlfert, for undertaking this project and film, and raising my awareness of yet another casualty to technological ‘progress.’ We need more librarians, archivists, documentarians. Without them the past is dead, and no one will have even noticed it go.
The freeway was filled with potholes and every few miles there was a
stripped car… We were a couple hours outside New York but you could feel
the city following you all the way up to Rhode Island. I think I was the one
who noticed the shaking first but didn’t say anything.
- daydream nation by matthew stearns (33 1/3 series)
Here is a transfer I did of three 8mm movie reels I found in an antique store in Milwaukie, OR. They are dated between 1953-54 and all have the same return name and address postage. Returned, mind you, from Kodak’s labs, as this was before the consent decree, signed in ’54, that forbade Kodak from coupling the cost of processing with the initial film purchase.
I’d been living in Boulder, CO for about 3 1/2 months at the time I took this roll. It’s been hard adjusting to a new place, especially one in which I knew nobody for a time. I took this roll in places that I like to go, or of things that I thought particularly describe this place. As I joined Jon’s project late, was busy, and had to borrow a camera with a working light meter (thank you Adan De La Garza) – I had 1.5 days to take the pictures before the deadline. I like to go to the lake pictured when I am in a bad mood. This is very cliche, but unfortunately true, because…that’s the way I am. It is the closest thing to a beach I could find, which was my usual ritual before, having lived on the east coast. Something about expanses of water is very soothing to me. I can’t explain. The lake pictured is frozen, and yes, I have walked to the middle of it, unaccompanied.
The area near the high wires are a specific place for me also. It is the only place I know of in which electricity going through wires is extremely audible. It is a strange sound, even stranger still that
something so common to those in a more populated area would have to be some place like here to really hear it, and certainly a foreign sound to hear in such a landscape. I had to take these pictures quickly because I was in someone’s driveway. As soon as I started shooting, they needed to leave, so I had to as well.
Getting used to seeing the near-constant mountains has been strange for me, as well as the expanses of flat, nearly wrinkled land. I’m afraid I over-included them, but they are enormous, and they are Boulder (though a few are actually of downtown Denver). Other places pictured are areas on the campus of the university of Colorado at Boulder. The architecture has a greek feel to it, and you can tell by the obliquely placed solar panels in front of Mackey auditorium (where I sneak down to the basement to play on the university’s pianos-I am not a student there) that it is eco-conscious even at the risk of looking not entirely geometrically perfect (as most of this area of Colorado is).
By the freaky buffalo mascot/statue is probably a tour group. I don’t know them. Some pictures are also on the walking mall in downtown Boulder. It’s not a place I particularly like, but a place that defines Boulder - with carved rocks for children to play on and a light “fountain” (to not waste water), it truly is an odd bit of Americana and certainly not of the type that is usually imagined.
This place is odd, and I haven’t gotten used to it yet. Light at night acts more like fallen dust on the ground, and all the right angles and perfectly straight telephone poles make me think I am living in an architectural model rather than a real place. I haven’t gotten used to it yet, and I don’t think I will, but it’s alright for the moment. And the people here are pretty nice. Oh, and that star is this stupid christmas light-ed thing they place on the side of the mountain in the winter. It’s totally cheesy, and I hate it now, but I’ll probably think of it as an oddly defining thing in a few years…
You can see some of Katie’s excellent video work here.
It was the day before my birthday in Columbus, Ohio when I took my roll of Kodachrome for a night out on the town. I drove around the city hunting for a flash of color in a landscape otherwise choked in midwestern winter gray. As the sun set, I realized that growing up with this often dull pallette of colors has given me appreciation for the most sublte hint of brilliance.
somewhere in the midst of shooting this roll, i lost my job. it was the middle of chanukah, at a time in the year when the novelty of a heavy snowfall was starting to fade. however, i was about to fall in love and when you’re falling in love it’s easy to enjoy the weather.
all pictures were shot in the logan square, humboldt park, and garfield park neighborhoods of chicago.
When I first got the message from Jon to help with this project and he discussed the end of the medium, an era of this specific kind of representation, and how his project would use these modern, lasts slides of kodachrome to reference its history, I began searching kodachrome archives, to see how the medium has been used, glorified, and become its own.
My favorite archives were found in the Library of Congress, with their World War II Industrial and Rosie the Riveter photos. So, I’m definitely a feminist and could go in to the original use of Rosie in these photos and the intention of use of an all female, modern girl gang to replace all the factory workers in the chosen photos I re-presented, but mostly, in this instance, I think that placing a glaring light on the construction of the archive itself, the medium through which this history was documented, is always already in any use of the medium thereafter. I hope that the hyper obvious and playfully constructed reenactments helps to highlight the origins, intentions, purposes, and canon of work that has become a part of the medium’s definition.
I also took this idea, seeing that much kodachrome of the past was used to document industry and city scape around parts of Chicago’s industrial complexes. I tried to choose images of the city that could have been also documented in the height of kodachrome’s industrial use, or that I feel are a modern representation of similar things. And for a while I went up to different factory workers on break and tried to get them to let me take direct portraits of them. They were all super bashful. The closest I got was the turned back of the stretching man watching the giant heart-shaped concrete slab swinging from machinery.
In the end, I also really love my friends and wanted to take some semi-glorifying, beautifully color-rich photos of them.
Whitney’s Chicago pictures can be found in her first post, here.
Here is a selection of the very last roll I shot, with my dear friend Matt, on the very last day possible for shooting: Monday, Dec. 27, three days before the deadline to make it to Kansas. I was at a loss of what to shoot and Matt finally suggested this, a trip to the Michigan News Agency:
Shot in Houston…
This roll of gold was shot over 3 weeks time in my home-for-two-years-and-counting, Santa Fe, NM. The seven images posted are the lone survivors of the roll I shot in the three weeks leading up to my 27th birthday. I took the last shot in the early hours of the morning after a night of sitting with friends in my concrete yard, inebriated, around a rusted-out, jankety oil barrel-turned hobo furnace.
I used the film to document my house and home state: my porch and the blue sky above La Bajada hill are the images that made it. The last few, out of focus and a little smokey themselves, are good representations of my condition at the end of that late night/early morning, driving with a boy down Hwy 14 to finish off the first and last roll of Kodachrome I would every shoot.
…at which point I finished the roll and proceeded to wind the film back into the canister to ship back.
What caused it to snap, I cannot tell you–I met some resistance about 1/3 of the way through, even though I was gentle with it. Nevertheless, I opened the camera to find that the holes at the bottom edge of the film had torn, and I was exposing the film to the early morning sun.
I contacted Jon, he contacted the film dudes, and instructed me in sealing the canister, which I did with help of my friend, fine landscape photographer Ray Belcher, who had also coached me in Kodachrome. I sent the film off to Portland. It made it to Kansas. And Jon is my hero.
a candy shaped pistol.
The concept behind these photos was still mostly shrouded as I set off onto the streets of Austin. I had recently implanted myself into the city on a whim from New Orleans and Brooklyn street gossip. I had little idea of what would be laying around the nooks and crannies of the city. I knew however, that they would not be empty; there is something I have learned soundly – life exists. The photos in this set are my attempt at visualizing a bleak perspective: a look into a dreary mist obscuring a set of words on the horizon which has converging messages of hope and fear, loneliness, and redemption through others. This is a glimpse of what the homeless see. It is zombie-march. They journey years everyday, led on by a constantly stagnant view of hope through their repetitively changing world, though reliably ending in the same mire again.
I was particularly happy with the partially washed-out, bleak, and stark colors because I feel they add the suitable tone for this conversation. I’ve seen that this is how the homeless view the world, just how most of society is perpetually ignoring the homeless and dismissing them as hangover of a personally-disconnected mistake that someone else has made. These seeming irrelevances are what bring the context to the story: just as pan-handlers may be considered street novelties or decoration by a passing tourist, sky-scrapers are just another tree in the forest to piss on, from the other side of the mirror; they are equally irrelevant.
I also wanted this to be a walk, something casual and not investigative at its heart. I wanted it to be devoid of people, because I wanted you to feel the people who set their feet there, sat down for a break, or laid their head – all of them. Imagine blinking in and out of clear view of your world, in and out of utter happiness and complete dispirit, experiencing complete relaxation concurrently with dire stress, holding hands of people you meet to your heart for a moment before they disappear just as quickly as they came, and then reemerging into quick snapshots of life for brief moments of intense loneliness – this will be more appropriate.
You read more about Luc’s travels at his blog: No Intention of Arriving
A little story behind these: Martin picked up his roll from me while he visited Portland, en route to New Zealand. At the time he didn’t have a film camera with him but was sure that he could rouse one once he was island-side. I believed him. It was late November when he left. He said he would contact me once he had taken the slides to find out whether to send them to me, as most had, or send them to Dwayne’s directly. It was mid-December once we got a hold of me. Since he was WWOOFing, and therefore often didn’t have internet access, it was difficult to figure out how best to coordinate getting his film back on time. He ended up sending the roll directly to Dwayne’s with a note with my name, phone number and email. I called Dwayne’s and explained the situation. They said they hadn’t, yet, received any packages from New Zealand but they were also swamped so it could have been around somewhere. I asked them to add it to one of my several other orders if they happened to find it or if it eventually arrived. I didn’t get any word on them getting it so I assumed that it hadn’t made it by the deadline. Then, a couple of rolls came back, separately, a week after of the majority of the rolls had come back. Could it be? A small miracle…
There’s a couple more stories like this to come, but in the meantime I’ll turn it over to Martin. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote on the experience:
Given the time and place i was in, i brought a digital camera with me to New Zealand. I was quite confident that, when the time was right, a film camera would find me. A nice SLR with some high quality glass attached to it, i thought, would be perfect for the Kodachrome. I was picturing my first “real” camera, a Pentax K-1000.
When such a camera did not appear in Auckland or Hamilton, i was not too concerned. After all, i had until late December…
I started looking in earnest when i got to New Plymouth, where i transferred buses to get to Inglewood. There was a photo store less than a block from the bus station! A “sign,” i thought. But the nice ladies at the store told me that nobody in town rented 35 mm.
On my initial tour of the Environment Centre, i spied three dusty cases on top of a high shelf in the library. “Can i use one of those cameras?” i asked Val, relieved. I was confident that one of them would be flash. (Flash is New Zealand slang for “fly.”)
Val said, “Yes,” and i opened the cases one by one.
Olympus point-and-shoot. Rubbish.
Ricoh 35 EFL. Sure. If i was 8.
And then…the big one.
(Cross your fingers for flashness!)
35 mm slide projector.
I wanted to ask Val if there were, you know, any other cameras. But i’m a good Minnesota boy; i minded my manners. With the Ricoh, at least i could adjust the f-stop (lens opening). So i took it… But i didn’t load the film. My fingers were still crossed for some flash shit.
* * *
It was not long into my stay with Val and Graham that i noticed a particularly colorful sunset forming in the west. “Gorgeous,” i thought to myself. “I can’t imagine what it looks like over the Mountain!” So i took off down the road, bare feet and all, to follow the sunset. And i had a moment’s pause: Should i grab the Ricoh? And the Kodachrome? Capture the Taranaki sunset for 180 years and more?
“No,” i thought to myself. “Surely there will be another one tomorrow.”
That evening’s sunset was downright breathtaking. Deep blues and violets, somber oranges and yellows, and a radiant pink took turns playing on the clouds. The silhouette of Mount Taranaki divided the sky, casting its own shadow towards the heavens. I walked through Inglewood for nearly an hour, soaking up every moment.
And then it rained for nine days straight.
* * *
On one of the dryer evenings, Graham organized a community tandem ride. After the ride, Val and Graham hosted a dinner party. Lord, was it good! I stayed at the house during the ride and stoked a hot fire in their handmade clay oven. Val had made pizza dough from scratch earlier in the day, so, when the time came, everyone got to make their own pizza – roll out the dough, pour the sauce, top it, everything – and then bake it the old-fashioned way. And there was salad, there was smoked fish, there was dessert, there was beer…
And, there was a photo enthusiast in attendance.
Her name was Adrian. She showed up while i was on fire duty (a “sign?” asks the left brain), and we started chatting. Somehow the conversation got back around to the Kodachrome project, and she knew all the technical stuff i was trying to put into plain speak. She told me that she was part of an amateur photography club in New Plymouth. And then the conversation drifted elsewhere.
Later in the evening, i slipped in my question: Do ya know where i could rent or borrow a film camera?
“Mmmm…there’s a man,” she said. “Robert French. He owns a photo store on Devon Street. He’s been a great help to us.” And we looked him up in the phone book straightaway.
That weekend, i caught a ride into New Plymouth. I volunteered at the Hive, i made some cool friends (Shout out, Nao, Nore, and Marion! — that’s American slang for “Hello from here.”) … and i checked out Robert French Photography. It was the same place i had gone the first time i was in New Plymouth!
A “sign?” Or just a small city?
The following more or less represents a good portion of what makes up my day and commute in Washington DC. It was a cold brisk day in December. It also happened to be my 27th birthday.
Shot in Portland…
Here are a few from the four rolls I shot. It took a while to decide how best to break them up since I was traveling as I was taking them and the location/subject matter doesn’t neatly divide among each roll. So for this first post I decided to focus on some of the more personal things I shot. Most of these shots are around the house in Michigan where my sister and I grew up, and where my dad lived until he died about a year ago. My sister went with me to take these pictures and to shoot other film (more on that below). The are also a couple pictures of where he worked, a company my grandpa founded and my dad took on, begrudgingly…also, a couple random stores which a remember from growing up. Finally, there are a few shots from visiting my grandparents in Florida, a week before.
Here is also a good place to note that there was to be super-8 footage of the house , of me taking these pictures and other nonsense situations. I only found around five rolls of super-8 film since I had started this project and two of them had already been exposed. Another issue was that I had broken my camera of five years and had shot all my previous super-8 film on. I had no luck finding a replacement for it in Portland, Denver or the state of Florida. Finally, the Friday before the Monday the film had to be shipped out (also Christmas Eve-Eve) I contacted a person on Craigslist who had two cameras and a myriad of old film lights for home movies. I drove an hour north of Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids to look at the cameras and miraculously one of them ran and hadn’t sat for decades with the batteries left in. Long story not-so-short: none of the film we had a chance to shoot came out… Won’t know if it was the camera until I can run some other film through it, but it is just as likely that all the rolls had been improperly stored and the chemistry degraded, a potential problem when using any long-expired film, but particularly Kodachrome.
Here are excerpts from two rolls shot by Christen Cofer, one I sent him and one he had lying around. You can view more of Christen’s excellent work here…
“I decided to take a walk one sunday afternoon around the west side of harlem. Armed with my Canon Elan 7N and 2 lenses i went on a walk that would end in me taking the pics that would start the roll of kodachrome. i shot maybe 20 exposures that day until the sun started to go down. I was hoping to finish the roll but i didnt want to rush the process. Each frame was important to me so i didnt want to waste any shots by taking a picture of something i wasn’t really into just for the sake of burning down the roll. The rest of the roll was shot that following week on another walk i went on in midtown manhattan. Overall i am really happy about how these came out and i cant wait to see the second more experimental roll i shot.”
Shot in Big Sur…
Shot in Chicago. More from Whitney in an upcoming post…
Shot in San Francisco…
Shot in Sweden, France and back home in Portland…