The Latent Image, Magic & Cris DerksenSaturday, March 17, 2007
One of Arthur C Clarke's "laws" of prediction states:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Much has been written of intrepid explorers venturing into dark corners of the Amazon jungle and "conquering" hitherto fierce natives by handing them a Polaroid. For me photography has always been magic. The gradual emergence of an image on photographic paper that has been immersed in developer is a rabbit out of a top hat every time. The choice of word, develop, is interesting. At one time photographic plates or rolls of film were not developed but "images were developed out".
At left you see a roll of exposed Kodak Plus X 120 film with which I took 10 exposures of half-Cree cellist Cris Derksen yesterday at 3pm. She told me:
I like your pics... but i also like pics a bit edgy, not so lovely, ya know?
So we took 10 pictures that were a bit edgy but lovely (I think) nonetheless.
I will never be able to resolve (not that I would want to) my sense of wonder at the fact that the above roll has ten latent images of Cris. Somehow the exciting, lovely, intelligent, warm young girl who came into my studio and left a sort of "latent" image of herself in my mind's memory is also captured in that roll of film. I will have to go into my darkroom over the weekend and "develop her out".
Latent is from the Latin latens which means 'hidden' or as applied to photogaphy, the state where something exists but where it is not (not yet) visible. It is the potential aspect of latency that brings in that extra measure of excitement and uncertainty. In my past people would ask me, "Did the pictures come out?"
The more I think of it, that a human being can be parsed into zeros and ones in a digital camera is as much magic as the latent image of film.
Since I have been assigned by the Georgia Straight to photograph Cris Derksen I cannot show you her developed out picture until next Thursday. The blank (or is that latent?) space you see at right will be filled by the image come Thursday.
And since it is now Thursday here it is.