Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Closed System # 2

Closed System #2, 2009

Echolilia is being shot with a Hassleblad and film these days in an attempt to keep it new and fresh for both my son and I. He loves the 'blad: the mechanical wonder, the gears, the rituals, the dark slide and all that goes with making a photograph. He thinks the images we get are beautiful, which they are. Myself, I think they are just too emotionally messy and soft when shot on film.

There really is nothing as cold and calculated, as clearly un-emotional as the image a digital camera creates. Like the one above.


Sirfenn said...

I have an affair with Hassey as well, but really? "Nothing as cold and un-emotional as the image a digital camera creates"? I hope its not totally true as warmth and emotion are some of the very qualities that make image making worthwhile, and I am primarily shooting digital these days ...

For me the Echolilia series/journey has been very emotionally charged, and I know you have been shooting digital ...

I will optimistically hope its more about light and subject, and that the overwhelmingly popular medium of choice is not poisoning the craft.

Just one fans opinion.

Timothy Archibald said...

Fenn- the idea with Echolilia is that I think the emotional distance that the digital provides allows the project some subjectivity. Nobody needs another emotional heartstring parent child story. Ya know? The content is emotional, the medium can be clinical. That's the plan, I dunno if its working...but thats the plan.

David Wright said...

Curious, why do you think it's more difficult to achieve what you want to achieve with Echolilia by shooting film instead of digital?

What do you want to achieve?

Some of this may have been answered in Fenn's question, but I suppose I am probing deeper. Thanks in advance, Tim.

Timothy Archibald said...

I really regretted shooting Echolilia on digital, but in the beginning my son was 5 and responded positively to seeing the digital image on the back of the camera. I thought it really made everything look junky, but accepted it.
He is now 7 and we got to a point where he was bored with the picturemaking. A friend suggested we try film again to keep it new to him. He loves the process, but to me the images look...oh...i dunno...rich in the wrong type of emotion that comes when children and skin and grass appear on film...it all seems so romantic and sensual. Originally I liked the odd sense the project carried, this sense of emotional disconnection, not empathetic, not sensual, just cold hard facts: the images and the scans together. I came across the look by default, but just realized it was a big part of the project when I switched to film
Fact is, Eli likes shooting with the blad, and you can't do a project on your kid without his co-operation. Thus we are shooting film. But hopefully in this day and age of post production, we can hire someone to suck the emotion out of the film shots and even everything out.
Just as a write this I'm realizing it sounds ridiculous. Any thoughts?

david bram said...

The photographs are wonderful. Make them happen any way possible.

I don't really own a digital camera so all of my daughters photographs are shot with various hasselblads and on film.

I also like the idea of having something tangible to leave behind.

Timothy Archibald said...

Hi David-
Thanks, glad you like. Lots of parents share that sentiment...like that the kid will really like the work when he's older. Actually I think the opposite...I'm guessing he'll not like it, or I'm prepared for that. And, to be honest, I really think that I am doing the project for selfish reasons, but anytime it's a parent/child relationship, it carries with it this "family of man" good vibe to it. But really I think I'm just trying to tap into this kid's brain so I can make a bunch of photographs that look different than my pictures used to look. Does that sound fair? I'm exaggerating to make a point, but the point is the same.

david bram said...

At some point in time, your son will want those photographs. His son might want them as well so shooting film makes sense to me.

Selfish maybe but your intentions are good.

Timothy Archibald said...

Yah, well put there. I do feel my intentions are good, but I'm not afraid to admit the selfish aspects of the project. Sometimes exploiting something isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Aline said...

I agree with David. I've been thinking a lot about what we as photographers will pass on to our children--do we hand them a CD, a laptop, and say, here is your life? I only shoot film, and hope that it helps keep their memories alive for their grandchildren.

bird. said...

uh, is this the film v digital debate again, "cleverly" disguised? I'm just sayin'....


David Wright said...


In my opinion you're not sounding ridiculous at all. I'm very critical of my work and it sounds like you are, too. I'm critical about the things I care about most and my work is definitely one of them.

I can understand with you not wanting the images to look too emotion heavy (Sturges, Mann, etc.). You want the work to be original and your own (and your son's), and I believe it does.

Maybe with shooting digital and shooting film it's more about the relationship with your son. A relationship evolves (as I know you know, for sure, not talking down to you!). Maybe yours and his began with digital and now it's becoming film. I also identify and believe the changes for all the reasons you mentioned. A lot of times it's good to direct the work and other times it's best to let it run, and it sounds like you're doing both.

Also, I do believe that are first your son may not like the work (my teenager years were loaded with angst) but I also believe he will one day love it, perhaps earlier than I would have been able to had my father done this type of work. My father's writing 2 books now, one of which the main characters name is David. Now, I'd still like the books regardless of the name but I do find it interesting to see the name he chose.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm adding anything original or not but I do enjoy writing thoughts back n forth and seeing what each person say to say, minus the chirping bird!

bird. said...

dude, David, birds chirp. it's what we do. and sometimes they even add something useful to the discussion.

just not this time.

; )


Sirfenn said...

Spot on, absolutely, sans any medium discussion. Its such a wonderful relationship we get to enjoy as an outsider, purely between the two of you at a very personal level.

To me it almost feels like you have gone to great lengths to keep these images away from that expected "family of man" space. (and that really separates it.)

It does seem a little strange to insert our own personal emotions tied to film, and that experience, to what the emotional reaction might be to these images down the road. (We covet film but will our kids feel the same since they are growing up in a different world?) Will E's emotion from this series be tied to "back when him and his father used to capture on SLRs and megapixels.." as some sort of vintage conversation? Will E care any more or less for them if they are deteriorating on film, or locked away on sterile bits and bytes?

For some one who has 2 kids, its just such a joy to see the 2 of you share in the beautiful process. Thanks for letting us in.