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Impermanence January 7, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment, Online Tools.

oldcam   A friend loaned us the movie Little Buddha last night and it got me thinking about impermanence of physical things. I sometimes feel like I walk among ghosts in the halls of my college. Every day I see photographs of former Deans lining the hall. Everyday I hear references to brilliant people who walked the same halls decades before. On occasion I am reminded of a professor who once took a department by storm or an administrative assistant that who stood out for a personal act of kindness, good humor or grace under pressure.

At least, in this impermanent world, your memory will last longer than your computer or typewriter. Since I began in 1999, there might only be a small handful of computers in the building that were here at that time. Some searches on the Internet have turned up sites that speak great volumes for me. They aren’t particularly educational in one sense of the world, but they inspire me to reflect on my time spent working in the world.

One site that has benefited greatly from a brilliant editorial eye for design is 10Eastern and its collection of Found Photos. These images had been stored on computers around the world and inadvertently shared through P2P or Peer to Peer file sharing. People who leave open their computer for sharing music sometimes leave file folders of pictures. The found images on this site are varied and presented without comment. Like classical art, some of the best images speak volumes of irony to the viewer.

found 2  old photo
Found films; lost films

Some of the best images are of people captured off guard who look toward the camera and share a secret with the photographer. Their relaxed hands communicate in fine nuance and betray deep feelings, raw emotion, or inner pain. The images are poorly cropped, sometimes blurry, and not perfect photographic objects by any means, but they are each brilliantly formed messages about our humanity.

Another site to examine this moment of humanity is Lost Films. The designer of the site scoured the antique world for old cameras that still held film. He then worked some chemical wonders in his darkroom to bring the photographs out then digitally shared them on his site. My first thought often concerns who these people are and what they are doing. I wonder what images and words remain to be found from today’s world tucked away forgotten in bottom of file cabinets to emerge years from now and pondered over by our curious ancestors.



1. In Lieu of Lunch » Everything old is new - January 9, 2006

[…] The same site has a collection of Hand Knits for Young Moderns. They captured these images from the covers of a stack of knitting patterns they found. I mentioned in a previous post that old film and found images are taking a place of interest in the Internet world. I theorize that this is because these images shift us out of the present and demand that we use our full observing potential when looking at them. […]

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