In 2010, there was one working processor of Kodachrome film left in the world. After 75 years and countless photographs, the film that spawned Paul Simon’s 1973 classic tune of longing and fantasy was going the way of the passenger pigeon.
After I received a gift of 25+ rolls of 35mm Kodachrome film in early 2010, I began photographing at camera repair shops, film processors and photographic supply across the country. My images examine an industry transformed by digitalization and technological innovation recorded on an analog medium. The project ended in December of that year when Dwayne’s Photo – the last K-14 processor on earth – stopped taking anymore film in for processing.
Five years later, I’m pleased to finally share my project, titled Photofinishing, at the OSU Faculty Club through February 26th. The Faculty Club is located at 181 South Oval Drive in Columbus, Ohio.
Reader of this blog may be wondering, “What happened to the Brownie In Motion team? Why did the story leave off so suddenly? Where are Micah, Steve and the world’s largest Brownie camera..?
I truly must apologize to you. I left you hanging and for that I’m very, very sorry. The journey is far from over! Please let me explain.
What happened was that I returned to Columbus. I returned to take advantage of the opportunity to teach my dream class – Alternative Camera Systems – at The Ohio State University!
It was a very busy but very rewarding semester! During this upper-level photography course, undergraduate and graduate students explored an a-typical amalgam of photographic systems, including pinhole cameras, plastic lens cameras, peel apart film and a variety of DIY tricks. Though the class officially ended in mid December, our experience will culminate in an exhibition titled, ‘The Great Camera Build Off.’
The Great Camera Build Off opens this Friday, January 9th at EASE Gallery in Columbus, Ohio and features photographs and handmade cameras created by OSU students.
Every artist participating in The Great Camera Build Off was tasked with creating a new camera using a piece of obsolete equipment that Bob Hite (the OSU photo lab manager) and I collected from dusty nooks, forgotten boxes and rarely touched cabinets at OSU and my own personal collection. The resulting exhibition features both the handmade cameras (many of which are quite sculptural) and the images produced by each.
Although all of the cameras and images were created using analog (ie. film-based) materials, the output varies and includes digital inkjet prints, as well as those made in the darkroom.
The Great Camera Build Off opens Friday, January 9th at EASE Gallery and runs until February 7th. If you’re local, please come to the opening reception tomorrow from 7-9 to say hello, meet the student artists and enjoy food and drink on us!
After being stranded in the Bonneville Salt Flats all day, we cruised the strip in Wendover, Utah; the nighttime streets lined with $35 motels. On the Nevada side of the border, bright Vegas-style lights advertise penny slots, $6.55 senior discounts, and all-night buffets. A weird neon glow rises up into the desert sky. A place for Vegas dropouts, and vagrant Mormons to drown their woes, Wendover was clearly not built for high rollers. Technicolor temples of debauchery are seemingly the only things West Wendover has to offer.
After scanning the strip, we decided to get some cheap grub at a casino. Inside the Red Garter, patrons sit hypnotized by machines ringing out the merry music of paychecks being tossed aside. Countless slot machines and who-knows-what-else awaits the avid gambler inside these establishments. We ate our dinner at the Prospector Lounge, a neglected section of the casino with busted-out satin chairs and dull historical paintings commemorating the old west. The food was good enough; a simple biscuits and gravy for myself, and two eggs and toast for Steve. After reflecting on our day in salty hell, we chose to move forward and immediately made tracks for Twin Falls, Idaho. Driving up an old dusty portion of 93, I stayed wired on caffeine and chewing gum.
It was 3:00 AM before we settled into a RV park, a few miles north of our intended destination. Out in the open, surrounded by rural-suburban sprawl, our choice of campground was anything but ideal. Instead of a tree-lined grotto in the woods, the desolate concrete pad was lined with water and electrical hookups. Steve was furious about my decision to camp here as we rolled up to our pseudo campground. As we drifted to sleep in the parking lot, distant footsteps shocked my dull brain with a jolt of paranoia. Exhaustion took over and, before I could peek out of my sleeping bag, I was overtaken by troubled sleep.
Thursday morning in Jerome, Idaho, the fair grounds where we camped were milling with lazy preparatory activity for an upcoming event. Having expected to be harassed by the police, or worse, twisted local bumpkins whose motives and ethical standards would be no doubt questionable, rising to the gentle murmur of friendly fair grounds employees was a relief. The clanking of tent poles and humming of diesel engines quietly emanated from surrounding lots while we slowly and crustily rose from slumber. Despite our ratty appearance, we — wild-eyed, dusty punks passed out in their parking lot — were greeted with an offer of showers, friendly conversation and use of a hose to clean off our van.
As I hosed-off the salty mud caked onto the bottom of our vehicle, I was struck by how fortunate we’ve been. All along our journey, the kindness of people we encounter continues to surprise and amaze us. From gifts of Girl Scout cookies to perfect strangers offering a place to stay, we’ve are grateful for everyone’s generosity and willingness to help two road-worn travelers.
7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning we were rearing to get out on the Bonneville Salt Flats to make photographs with the camera obscura. Our frolic in the mud the night before had caused some apprehension but thorough testing of the ground assured us of a securely packed salt flat with only a little water from the rain resting on top. In cinematic form we sped through to the flats with our video camera rolling. The loaded down Ford maxed out at 93mph but driving on the famed salt was an experience non-the less. We made a beeline straight into the immense salty white expanse while I stared off, hypnotized by the road cones and mountain ranges swirling past us.
Last week, I was amazed by how many people came out of the woodwork during the final hours of the Brownie In Motion campaign and showed their support. Although we did not meet our goal, we did raise almost $4,000 for the project! Thank you so much for believing in this project! Everyone who publicly contributed has now been added to the Brownie In Motion Donor Hall of Fame on stakacs.com
A huge shout out and thank you to Molly Burke, Alison Stittsworth, Thomas Wagner, Ralph Fredericks, Miel Paredes, Darryl Baird, James Smith, Ed Gately, Berry Booth, Brittney Denham, Brad Baillie, Jenna Gordon, Roman Holowinsky, Amy Cubberly-Yeager, Chad Cochran, Dan Hausman, Larissa Hall, Elizabeth McManus, Casey McCarty, Chrissy Gillogly and those other generous contributors who prefer to remain anonymous! Your support means so much!
I’m now in the process of planning the next road trip with the camera obscura. If you have any suggestions on places to stop or artisans to photograph, please shoot me a message!
Please keep checking back for updates on Brownie In Motion!
A huge thank you goes out to my friend and OSU STEAM Factory colleague Roman Holowinsky. I’m not only thankful for his generous donation to the Brownie In Motion campaign but also for his ongoing enthusiasm, and encouragement. Without Roman’s sense of long-term vision, neither the OSU STEAM Factory nor the Brownie In Motion project would exist as we know them today.
For those of you not familiar with The Steam Factory, our purpose is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in the OSU community across the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. To disseminate research, technology and pedagogy through public interaction and to create new ways in which our work can impact a broader audience. Brownie In Motion was actually constructed with budgetary support from an Outreach and Engagement Grant that the STEAM Factory wrote together.
Hello Readers! I wanted to let you know that we are now approaching the final hours of our fundraising effort for the Brownie In Motion project on Indiegogo. Please consider donating to the campaign at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/brownie-in-motion/contributions/new before midnight tonight! There are lots of great rewards available for backers, including limited edition prints, postcards, and even the chance to have the camera obscura travel to your town for a visit! Help us document disappearing trades across America with the world’s largest Brownie camera!
If you’d like to hear what Japan Camera Hunter has to say about the project, click this link!
I’d like to thank Kenneth Rinaldo for his generous contribution to the Brownie In Motion campaign. Ken has been a driving force in this project since the very beginning. The prototype of Brownie In Motion was actually created during his New Media class at Ohio State while I was a graduate student. Without Ken’s technical knowledge and enthusiasm for this interactive camera, this project may never have existed.
Here are some process photos from a recent shoot taken by my assistant, Forrest Roberts…..
Another day at the office.
The projection studies are a visual convergence of two individuals that together make up a couple. These photographs were created by using the lens of the camera obscura to project the image of one person onto the body of the other. The final portraits are shot using a digital camera without the use of Photoshop and explore the ability of the photographic medium to render fantastical moments that are simultaneously fact and fiction.