Monday, April 4, 2011
FOUND Photobooth, week 5
Think about how often you find something on the ground that isn’t garbage, then think about how often that thing happens to be a photograph, then think about how often that thing happens to be a wet chemical photobooth strip. It doesn’t happen very often.
In the eight years I’ve been collecting, on average I only find a single photo or strip about every 6 months. So, you can imagine my disbelief when I found these three strips all within the same hour. The amount of them surprised me, but also of course, the peculiar similarities.
I found these strips in and around photobooths in West Edmonton Mall in the summer of 2010. This is what I see:
These girls, like most little girls have mothers. However, unlike most little girls they don’t belong to their mothers. They have large loving families in fact and are widely adored. These families see their little girls much like they see birds. A caged bird is distraught for it can’t fly and the owner is deprived the majesty of the bird that can only be realized in flight. These girls are trusted to know that fire is hot and that the night is cold and should they forget they’ll learn when they burn their hands and shiver in their skins.
All family members are connected with invisible dotted lines from their heart centers. When someone is far the spaces between the dots expand and the connection is weakened. If weak enough, a mother’s instinct will set in and she’ll put out something much like a bird call. Though, almost always the connection is strong. So strong that if you swat your hands in front of your chest you can feel the resistance as your hand goes through the force, much like when you wave your hand quickly underwater. So, it doesn’t matter where these girls are, so much as it matters that they are.
These families also understand that beginning, middle andnd are fine devices for storytelling but that life is not so linear. What matters is the force of the dotted lines and that the sequence that things unfold is just for extra clarity in our picture book world. These girls have a vague understanding of this, though it has never been explained to them. Occasionally however they are caught up in the chronology of their personal narratives.
To them photobooths are like little time machines. They know that they are just manmade contraptions but there is a pleasurable and unique sensation that accompanies the act of documentation. The booth is a marker for past and present states, a setter of tiny milestones.
Girls like these who lived in this space before these manmade machines were invented would stare into their reflections in ponds and not be able to stare away until a frog or fish came along to meet the gaze of their reflection. This simple act, the acknowledgement of another being, validated their physical experience and that moment was documented in a chasm somewhere far away.
The girls do not need to keep their photo strips, it is enough to know that they were taken and developed and that the moment was placed safely in a pocket in the Universe. In bus stations, shopping malls, and county fairs everywhere images of these girls are left for others to gaze into to.