The room was dank. Yet, the smell of freshly washed man, birthing dog, and piercing chemical mixed seamlessly to create a safe haven for me. I loved this place.
Effortlessly, I would give up elongated sunshine hours to step into this dark world of fixer and toner: yellow buckets that held liquid magic.
Cameras hung on the door handle. Lenses balanced on the shelves above the bench. The door creaked, the cement floor was cool.
A stool with gangly sturdy metal feet held an unraveling red foam cover together. It claimed a corner of the room as it’s own, where the light tried to steal its way in, but where my father’s large creased hands had stuffed foam into crevices to keep it out.
I would stretch my little arms up upward, grip the cold metal of the workbench and hoist my body.
I would balance my elbows on the wood panel while I stood tranfixed, staring at my father as negatives became something else entirely.
The lifting from one liquid to the next, the pegging up on the line strung above our heads, it all funneled into me, burying itself until I discovered it again, years later.
Visual art does this.
It permeates the brain at punctured intervals that we may not perceive, until years later, when something calls it outward, makes it tangible, re-contextualises it in the present.
Instant has cheapened us. We need the forgotten process but we don’t know it.
It starts with the rolling of the film into the camera body; the clicking of the dial, the turning of the wheel to set the light metre just so; the rolling back of the film to prepare it for it’s liquid birth; the fixer; the toner.
We need the process to appreciate the art.
Since reading a poem a day, I have developed something unexpected. A few months ago I was not aware of the need but it grew within me, without my knowing.
A few weeks ago, it revealed itself: the words themselves were no longer enough. I needed an extension to them: I needed to discuss them in order to process them. I needed to talk in images.
And so I started capturing poetry.
The process is cathartic. It embeds itself more deeply into the nervous system.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In April we’re exploring the theme Candy.