That Latent Heart - El Corazón LatenteWednesday, September 21, 2016
Shooting with film for me in the 20th century and in this one was and is a lonely business tinged with an exciting wonder.
From the first time sometime in early 1961 when I saw an image emerge on a sheet of 8x10 photographic paper in that Mexico City College darkroom on the Toluca highway I have been left with an excitement that has never worn off. The emergence of that image in the developer tray spied by a dim yellow safety light always brought to mind one of the most beautiful words associated with photography. These are the latent image.
The idea that after an exposure on a light sensitive medium be it a Daguerreotype, an albumen print, a wet plate or on celluloid film there is an image there in all of its entirety (for those who are part of the digital age think of a prototype RAW image) that had to be (in the language of the 19th century) developed out.
Photographic philosophers of the 20th century like Minor White wrote and talked about the idea of the pre-conceived image. One that you thought of, exposed and then developed to the exact specifications of your initial idea. Other photographers like Ansel Adams considered the resulting negative as a musical score in which the photographer in a darkroom would then interpret.
In my photographic life I have spent countless hours, alone in the darkroom thinking of the above and finding a melancholy of not being able to share that excitement with anybody.
The word latent has also gone through a change in use in this century. But I can only correct this by noting that in Spanish latente when connected to corazón has the wonderful meaning of a latent heart, one that beats.
There are two images here. One is a very sharp 6x7 cm Ektachrome and the other an overly exposed (an error) b+w Kodak Infrared Film. Both images are of the wondrous Lisa Ha who posed for me many times with patience.
The “corrected” over-exposed image underexposes those parts that would be anathema to social media and my blog’s self-censorship.
Alas at one time around 2000 I would have shown these photographs in a photo show. Those times are gone for me. So these wonderful errors lie in wait in my files for the moment that I will snap them up, fix them and use this wonderful internet to give the image its time in the sun even if that is in monitor pixels.
Minor White - Previsualizing the unpredictable