Exploring the hidden information in negative film as a parallel to human memory.
Posted Jun 22, 2007
Our foundations for understanding the world are formed when we are children - a time when a sense of wonder surrounds all that we see. Further blurring reality, our memories of childhood inevitably fall victim to nostalgia. These idealized and often unrealistic fragments of time dot our past. To explore this space I have chosen an instrument with a nature much like a child’s view. What better way to approach the world of a child than with a toy?
The Holga was introduced in Hong Kong in 1982 for $20.
In the last 25 years, it has changed little. As an information gathering device it is a crude and basic system. It is less a camera and more an ill-fitting plastic enclosure for medium format (120) film. A loose focus ring is the only real manual control offered on a Holga. Although two apertures are available, a design flaw leaves only one effective aperture of f13. Likewise, there are two shutter speeds: 1/100 or bulb.
The Holga 60mm lens is a single piece of curved plastic or glass, depending on the model.
No two Holgas will produce the same image. Light leaks, warped elements and flimsy materials give each camera its own life, quality and perspective. These characteristic flaws give each little black box an unmistakably human element.
In the last year I have taken a Holga everywhere. It has become an extension of me. I don’t worry about breaking it or getting it wet. Its simplicity removes any obstruction between me and my experiences. I’ll often abandon the viewfinder and shoot blind.
The negative film inside my holga has a high dynamic range. Scanning and examining each negative at 4000dpi reveals much information that might not be immediately visible. These environments are painstakingly reconstructed, distilling the moment of capture from the myriad of Holga characteristics. Lens distortion is corrected, uneven exposure is adjusted, and frames are recropped. The image is rebuilt in the same fashion a childhood memory may be recalled - details (often idealized) slowly emerge with care and patience.
Reality is caught at the moment of documentation. And like the human mind, it becomes malleable with time. I take a methodical approach as I rebuild each space, searching for both the inspired moment and every available detail surrounding it. The resulting 81 mega-pixel images explore the truth that exists between an experience and a memory.