Doomsday

Image

Today’s photograph is an old one, it was taken in Central Park, NYC, in late October 1978. This is a scan of a print from an Ektachrome slide, probably taken using my Olympus OM-1n with a 28mm lens.

Why this got printed and not others from the hundreds of shots I took of my trip around the USA that winter I’m not sure, I think I did it for someone who liked the picture then never paid me for the print! One day I will get a slide/negative scanner and sort out the pages and pages I have of slides.

I was looking for this image and others because I am writing about New York in 1980 for my novel, Vincent is stuck with a dilemma and I need some background to set him in.

It made me also think about how when we do something we expect the media we do it in to have a future history. I do not even have a slide projector now, when the bulb blew on mine, maybe 20 years ago I just got rid of it rather than pay for a new bulb. The media of photography using negative or in this case reversal film is now all but over, the photographs I took in the past are sitting waiting in files to be changed to a newer medium. Yes, I know all the equipment is still available, but it is getting into a specialist thing. I had a very basic darkroom set up of my own which I could easily carry around to work with community organisations, I must have shared the skills with hundreds of people up and down the Valleys of South Wales at one time. I had access to good darkroom facilities at arts centres, where I would go now, I don’t know!

The past 20-25 years has been a time of media becoming obsolete almost before it has really got going. Remember 5¼ floppy disks or even the disks that followed, all those attempts to hold more and more data. Is any of that mass of information available to you. Never mind the equipment what about the software, made obsolete by newer versions which won’t read the old stuff. It has and will be always the case that companies require you to re-equip, spend more money which increases their profits. When I moved to Windows 7 my perfectly useable Adobe Creative Suite won’t run, and an update costing around £200 is required! I got the free Scribus and Gimp software instead which does nearly everything I need nowadays.

In 1986 there was a project run by the BBC to create a new Doomsday Book, hundreds of community organisations, schools and others took part. The information was available on huge disks and within a few years was obsolete. The information written in the original Doomsday Book from 1086 of course could still be read! There are now computer conservators who have worked on this, but it shows how careful as writers, photographers, film-makers, artists we ensure that we update our digitally saved work.

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