On analogic and digital
Digital photography has not yet comforted me with the pleasures that analog photography has so far provided me. Let us agree that I am a primitive being, which is quickly and simply satisfied: the question goes through my senses.
Being the view the faculty on which the photograph is based, my preference for analog is based on two special moments: the first occurs during shooting, and the second, when (and how) the image becomes visible.
My preference to taking images analogously comes from keeping the expectation dormant, knowing that I don’t have an unlimited choice of shots, and that you don’t need to do dozens of them either. One or two are sufficient: it is also a matter of efficiency related to materials.
I include in my choice the use of Photographic Time: a specific rhythm in action, such as in dance or musical performance.
Regarding the first view of the processed image, it grants me a share of ‘magic’, when I see it appear in the gloom of the laboratory. It is an experience that, although it is repeated, continues to amaze me both by the eruption from the white of the photographic paper and by the awareness of my visual system, adapting its cones and canes in the red darkness of the darkroom. Although it sounds corny, I prefer that kind of experience to the fulguring immediacy of the screen on the camera or computer.
As for the auditory, the laboratory comforts me with the relaxing sound of the water that, making responsible use of it, flows slowly while I wash the negatives and impressions.
My sense of touch increases markedly when in total darkness, I place the film in the reveal tank, and it is extreme in care when once the process is finished, I must manipulate it carefully and firmly.
My sense of smell awakens in the presence of acids and sulfur, metol and its reminiscent of quince, the itching of metabisulphite or ammoniacal effluvials: nothing smells like a photographic laboratory in the fullness of its use.
In addition, and indirectly, photography gives me access to different flavors: it is closely linked to the stoning of the smoke of my pipe while I choose the negatives that I will print, to that of bitter matte when I examine the photographs printed before intonation and retouching, and that of the coffee or tea that accompanies me when I finally contemplate them before conditioning them in their boxes. I have not yet learned to slowly adapt these activities when I try to edit my digital images.
As if that weren’t enough, analog photography reserves a direct taste for me, perceived when vapours from the buckets reach my papillae. There are processes and techniques that make me ‘taste’ photography while it is being created.
More than thirty years in these taste experiences suggest to me that they have not been harmful. A walk through the neighborhood (with a pretty good air, by the way) removes all vestiges of the laboratory atmosphere.
But (and worth the redundancy) in this analog/digital tasting, it’s all a matter of taste. As I said at the beginning, my primitive tastes know little about the delights of other surely more sophisticated pleasures. At the moment, I will leave the pixels for later, when a sybaritic refinement grows in me that I do not feel capable of nor deserving today.