Resistentialism & Corrupted, The New BogeymanSaturday, January 29, 2011
It is an image that is embedded in my brain. I was driving my VW Beetle on Paseo de la Reforma sometime around 1970. Paseo de la Reforma is one of the most beautiful boulevards in the world. It was built by Emperor Maximilian in the 1860s so that his beautiful wife Carlota could see him come home from work from her perch at the Castillo of Chapultepec. It was this castle (the Halls of Montezuma) that had been stormed by American Marines in the war between Mexico and the US in 1847.
The car in front of me suddenly stopped and I almost rear ended it. A beautiful woman in an extremely tight red dress got out and she opened the hood. I watched her remove one of her also red high heel pumps. She then proceded to bang at the carburetor. My guess is that she had some sort of vacuum lock and the bang dislodged it. She got into her car, started it, and drove away.
I am not sure if the woman in the tight red dress knew what she was doing or if it was just look. I am convinced that the moment you understand what a clutch is and how it works is the moment it is going to begin to slip. It is almost as if ignorance of the workings of an inanimate but quite mechanical object is indeed an example of ignorance is bliss.
My eldest daughter Ale is the only person in my family who is able to assemble anything we might buy at Ikea. She seems to have an innate concept of how things work. This did not prevent her from seizing up the engine of her four door Honda Civic in the late 80s. She had inherited the car from my wife who was now driving a big odd sounding (five cylinders!) Audi. Ale always made sure to fill the windshield washer receptacle confusing that with the radiator which she ignored. When the last of the water of the radiator was gone so was the engine of her Honda. I did not laugh at her because I have problems with machines.
In fact I became aware of the problem that humans have with machines in the late 50s in a Ray Bradbury short story that features a man who is quite unkind with the appliances of his house. While shaving in front of his mirror one day the electric razor goes at him with not too pretty results.
This is now called resistentialim which is the concept that inanimate objects can and sometimes do get back at their human creators and users.
My wife has the talent of turning on electric switches in our home and statistically burning more light bulbs than her husband.
She has an innate distaste for any container, especially the kid-proof medicine ones. She goes after them with force and is never able to open them.
From the very beginning that I learned that the key to successful photography in Vancouver was:
1. To call a client and not insult them and then set up an appointment to photograph them.
2. To show up on time.
3. To produce one useable image.
I realized that showing up on time, was to show up a lot earlier (even another day) to check out the problems of outlets that don’t work (the lounge area of the Vancouver Dance Centre does not have one outlet that works) and other vagaries that would prevent me from snapping a picture. This meant that if camera A did not work I had to have Camera B. If Lens A (a favourite portrait lens) might fail I better make sure t pack a second equivalent one. Being a photographer is like being an engineer at NASSA. You have to have a back up.
If something photographic is going to fail, it will more often than not, happen to me. I have done everything possible to ameliorate resistentialism in my life to almost no avail. I might get paid $500 for a job and spend the same sum fixing something important before a shoot.
As a matter of fact the actual act of getting a job these days brings with it enough resistentialism to break my bank.
A couple of weeks ago I did not know I would get a couple of jobs this past weekend and one tomorrow. So oblivious to that rosy future I sent my 25-year-old Dynalite pack to be repaired in Calgaray. Upon seing my flash pack and the two accompanying flash heads, the repairman wrote, “Your Dynalite does not owe you anything.”
I own three Mamiya RB-67s. Why? Before I even had suspicions of digital camera revolution, one Mamiya was my workhorse, the second was the backup should the first one not work or perhaps be worked on by my repair genius Horst Wenzel. The third Mamiya was for parts should they ever be necessary.
I was not counting that Wenzel would keep my first Mamiya in working order all these years. Yet as I get my equipment ready (I am using a backup to my Dynalites in my Norman 200s which are ten years older than the Dynalite) I am unsure if my two film backs will work properly. Wenzel did not want to cannibalize one of my extra film backs (for the now discontinued 220 film) so he made a new spring for one of my two failing backs. The spring may be much too tight. I am going for a job in which it is conceivable that even though I need only one back, both might fail.
After a successful session with a mezzo-soprano and a soprano on Friday I had the film( Ektachrome) processed and took it home. The deal was to scan it and send one of the better shots to the Georgia Straight by Monday.
Friday night my computer began to loop. It would boot and re-boot. It was then that my friend Paul Leisz (when I frantically called him with my problem) used the bogey-man word for the 21st century. By the end of the 20th we were always resigned to the futility of anger and protest when our bank or service station attendant might begin an explanation with, “Our computers are down…” In fact I am almost sure that many a would-be harp player has plunged to hell because St Peter at the pearly gates might say, “Our Heaven’s Gate automatic lock will not work. The computer is down and even God…” I am almost sure, too, that the heating in Hell always works.
All of the above is but an overture to the on and off (appropriate since the resistentialist happens to be a computer and its peripheral relatives) purgatory that I am living these last days.
John Chan at Powersonic Technology Inc in Richmond (he has saved my ass many times) informed me that the hard drive of my looping computer had a corrupted registry.
There, the new bogey-man word for the 21st century. “ Lady the onboard blue-canine resistor of your BMW is corrupted. We have to order the part and there is nothing we can do for you know.” It is futile to even attempt to fight, protest or even beg for help when the big C word is brought up.
When John Chan brought it up on Saturday noon (how would I scan that transparency by Monday morning? ) the solution became a relatively inexpensive new computer that Chan put together for me from component parts by 6 that afternoon. My friend Paul Leisz helped me (far more accurate, I watched) re-install the necessary programs like Photoshop, etc. I went home Sunday afternoon a happy camper with a brand new computer that I hope will serve me to my grave as the corrupted one was 7 years old.
It was not to be. As soon as I was scanning the transparency my screen went reddish mud. I finished the scanning and used my memory to memory and some parametric guessing to bring it back to what I thought was the right colour.
By 3 in the morning into Monday I was unable to calibrate my monitor. I could not achieve a neutral gray. It all looked dirty pink.
My experience with breaking things has at least brought me a level of objective forensics that I came up with two possible sources of the cyber-resistentialist (I hereby claim the originator of that compound term). It was either a failing 8-year-old Dell/ Trinitron CRT monitor (showing solidarity to the now departed 7 year-old computer) or it was the new video card.
Today Monday (I am writing this Monday evening) I took the monitor to Grant Simmons at DISC. It worked just fine there. The grays were gray. It had to be my computer.
I went to Powersonic but John Chan was not there. Roy ( forgot to ask him for his surname) calibrated my computer while standing up telling me he was unable to get the computer to go to its colour default so he had taken my computer back a few days before I had fiddled with monitor in an attempt to get the monitor calibrated. This worked and the grays were gray – until we turned the computer off and on again. It was back to muddy red. He seemed to solve the problem.
But as soon as I got home I had to re-calibrate. I have done this so many times that I will not sleep tonight calibrating a monitor in my head!
Paul Leisz says that the good folks at Powersonic will have to replace the new video card and he is sure that permanence will soon come to the gray areas of my life.
I am choosing to illustrate this with the picture that is my desktop picture. In the last few days I have stared at it hard as I move from left to right and play with gamma, and density and more of just that after that.