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#117 :: Brownie Hawkeye

June 6, 2004

cialis 40mg approved ‘popup’, stuff mind ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Pixelblocks are the toy equivalent of pruno, the alcoholic beverage inmates brew under their prison beds from raisins or surplus sugar: They’re fun, intoxicating and in the end, something of a headache. Imagine Lego blocks were divisible – and assemblable – not the multi-cell 2×4 or 4×12 kind sold now, but true single-celled plastic organisms capable of breeding by accretion. Imagine they came in psychedelic transparent colors, and could be mated not only peg-to-hole, but also slid together side by side, in reverse mitosis. You could manufacture entire pixel art cities in three actual dimensions, bring your Zaxxon world to life. But then you realize that it takes a long time to build a world one pixel at a time, and your ambitions and enthusiasm run afoul of your patience and the teensy little grooves you’re supposed to use to build with them but can never seem to line up correctly so you’re often separating misaligned and jammed-together blocks with your teeth. But you’ve got boxes and boxes of them, and you’re going to by-god make something cool. And it winds up the size of a baby’s fist, but at least pleasing in its own right. And now that you’ve done it, you’ll never drink pruno again until you’ve been really dry for a really long time. Pixelblocks are like that.
website ‘popup’, ed ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Before any lens, a performance takes shape the instant the shutter is opened. It lasts a few milliseconds, so quickly as to not exactly “happen” at all and then the camera shuts its one good eye, sinking into blissful ignorance of what it has witnessed, the actions, people, places and things lurking inside the dark box until you release them for capture in silver iodide, complex dyes or 1/0 bits. Your camera is a portable proscenium – whatever transpires within that bright rectangle is art, or drama, history or evidence, love or crap. The picture is whatever you say it is – until someone else looks at it, and then the the reviews come in, the script is scrapped in favor of new interpretations, and your quicksilver vision goes into the tall, moldering, mountainous stack with the rest of the already-consumed media the human race has made.

Made by Kodak and marketed in the U.S. from 1950 to 1961, the Brownie Hawkeye feels like the iPod of its day. Cubical, yet streamlined all over, its fluted surfaces invite your grip, a vinyl handle surges up out of its body, and a screw-on bulb-flash unit with a fat parabolic reflector blooms on its lapel. This is a damn simple camera – point-and-shoot, with single meniscus lens boasting a focus range of 6′ to infinity. You can try to re-roll 120 film onto Kodak’s proprietary and obsolete 620 reels, and if you succeed and you shoot something slow like Plus X, you can get wonderful low-contrast BnW images, square and rustic. It is not a camera for grand moments, nor surreptitious bursts of creative blood. It is a camera for standing in front of a thing or a person, and pressing the square, grey button to help you remember.

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