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#141 :: Prism

June 30, 2004

sickness mind ‘popup’, cure ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>The act of capturing light is intoxicating. Next to the seemingly rational conversion of images to pixels by the average digital camera, shooting on film verges on sorcery. I’ve shot with just about every still medium available – black and white, color, infrared, ultraviolet, Fuji, Ilford, Agfa, Kodak, noname, 35mm, 126, 127, 2¼x2¼, 6cmx7cm, 4x5in, 5x7in, 8x10in, Polaroid SX-70, stereo – and the potential and power of exposed undeveloped film still amaze me. I’ve coiled rollfilm onto reels, dipped sheets into tanks and dropped it off at the drugstore – rolls upon countless, processed rolls of it fill my negative binders. I’ve lost thousands of frames more – images that escaped back into the light when a dropped cartridge broke, melted when it went overboard, fogged beyond use in an airport scanner. An AP photog taught me how to tear these little cartridges open with my bare hands in the darkroom and whip the film onto a reel in about 30 seconds. And he’s probably jumped on to surf the digital wave that will leave all this behind in a backwash of colored dots that can’t quite approximate the alchemy of an image on film. I don’t know what’s on these two. Yet.
and ‘popup’, order ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>There’s something timeless and iconic about this chubby, vulcanized chunk of cheer. Ernie sang about him. You can buy his childlike optimism in bulk. He’s a quiz, an electronics warning, an obsession, an animated irritainment, and a target for black humor. And – oh, phenomenon most rare – he’s an unstoppable blight upon the waters of the world. This one’s about three and a half inches long, and looks … earnest.
symptoms ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>When I was six, we all got on the school bus after getting to school one day, and drove away from school we went to this museum with GIANT DINOSAUR SKELETONS and you could imagine them walking the earth shaking the ground with their big heavy footsteps Thunder Lizards dinosaurs means and we got to see a coelacanth I can’t even spell it my future self would learn how to spell it decades later but a coelacanth the oldest species of fish on earth it’s like a living fossil fish and they had a stuffed emu I think and lots and lots of dinosaur footprint fossils but we couln’t touch them and they had this amazing picture, all stretched long of dinosaurs eating and walking in the swamp and eating each other’s flesh with huge sharp teeth and claws and I remember all the neato things in the glass case in the museum store this magnifying glass only I didn’t have enough money and I only had enough money for a little plastic dinosaur not even a good one I didn’t have enough money for this prism …

I could go on like that for hours. Age six is still very vivid for me, especially as my son approaches age five, gaining wonder and focus and smarts. I’ve had chandelier prisms and prism creatures and a military surplus tank rangefinder prism (wish I could lay hands on it now) and scientific prisms like this one, which really require direct sunlight to project the spectrum. There is nothing on earth – short of God’s holy dance of mist and light – so mystifying and pure as a prism.

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  1. benidick bautista July 15, 2004 @ 3:48 am

    give me an example of an prism