Re-Constructs Before/After Portfolio
An interactive PDF exploring my work with the Holga toy camera
Posted Sep 11, 2008
This project began in response to the methods developed in my Multi-Exposure work. After pushing myself into a pristine corner with Zeiss lenses and multiple slides, balance meant introducing crude obstructions and less data. I was curious about the amount of information hidden on one frame of negative film - even in the poorest of circumstances - when housed in $30 of warped plastic - otherwise called a Holga. I've built a Before/After Re-Constructs PDF (20mb) to document this search.
The unpredictable qualities of the Holga were jarring at first. I was surprised at how spoiled I'd been by my Hasselblad system. I found myself placing unrealistic expectations on my new toy equipment. These expectations led me to overhaul the images, salvaging all that I could from the poorly exposed negatives. Light leaks, distortions, color casts, haze and a host of other anomalies are stripped. I routinely edit the organic grain of the film - contorting mottled surfaces into eerily smooth, artificial planes. This slow process of rebuilding can take days and is a peaceful escape from a harsh and certain reality that traditional photography offers. Imposing my idealized, artificial will produces a spooky version of reality - a serene blend of synthetics and lo-fidelity.
The cameras, being nearly disposable, go everywhere with me. I use them casually, as an extension of myself. I document my everyday and otherwise inconsequential moments. It takes just a second to work the Holga's crude shutter - and I often shoot blind, without looking through the viewfinder. Most images are taken in transit - while I'm walking, flying or driving.
Viewing the before/after states of these images, my memory is divided between the reality I recorded and the reality I constructed. In a way, their construction mimics the act of remembering - they are subjective, cathartic recreations of context and familiarity.