Friday, 15 December 2017

Niépce (December)

[Six of seven in B&W] The first photograph, that has survived, is of that form beloved of French artists, the roofscape. It was taken in 1826 or 1827, let’s say December, to remind us that cities like Melbourne exist entirely inside the photographic age. The image was made on lithographic stone coated in bitumen that was dissolved in lavender oil. Through the murk we discern not a face or natural shape, but geometry. Nicéphore Niépce was behind it all, or ahead of it all, coating it all, it an end product of other experiments he called heliography, or ‘sun drawing’. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Brownie (December)

[Five of seven in B&W] Brownie was carefully boxed up, wall inside wall, eyes front, and easy to use, which made it easy to sell. Snaps, the negative rolls enlightened for positive ends, developed into bits of squares recalling every occasion. Carefully our ancestors measured black corners, fitted the squares into corners on grey felt paper. Ephemeral minutiae time turns into talismans. My father stands on a rock outside Bright, the caption in fountain pen ‘Sir Edmund Hillary’. Mother, on same rock, ‘Lady Hillary’. Dad with his Eliot: “The evening with the photograph album.” Mother carefully stores them for posterity.

Hasselblad (December)

[Four of seven in B&W] In my twenties I absorbed great photographers. An hour with Cartier-Bresson left me seeing everything as a decisive moment. After Ansel Adams no landscape came up to scratch. Kertész pictured my absorption in books. I was captured by their erudite talk about Leicas and Hasselblads. Warhol though made sheets of famous friends at Studio 54, his dachshund dressed as the pope. I couldn’t like looking at other people’s breakfasts January through December, themselves somewhere or other, no light check. Photography was art from the start, but I lived in denial. It was always social media.