About this time last year, I was experimenting with origami pinhole cameras, with both photographic paper and black card (with film). What interested me, was how a simple manipulation of the medium allowed it to become a complete means of image-making.
Further experiments involving zone plates and camera-less photography, as well as a meandering train-of-thought, lead me to ponder the possibility of a photographic image that was capable of reproducing itself, ad infinitum. The notion posited a kind of photographic quine that is at once original, reproduction, and apparatus.
Deeper contemplation lead me to the realisation that if an image of a zone plate of “normal” perspective could be made at 1:1 scale, using identical zone-plate optics, then the image could be used to reproduce produce itself. (It wouldn’t practically matter if the image produced was positive or negative, as the zone plate could still work optically.) In the real world, of course, the number of “generations” would be limited by creeping image degradation, leading to “sterile” images that could no longer “reproduce”, but the conceptual basis of the process is certainly intriguing enough.
Further experiment pending.
I’m finally at a stage where I feel that I’m able to make progress with my documentary project on refugees and migrants in Wellington (working title: “Roots”). Here’s an exerpt from the proposal:
The kind of documentary project that is envisaged, seeks not express the hardship of being a refugee, but to instead capture the experience of rebuilding a life: re-establishing oneself in a place far from one’s roots. In doing so it attempts to build upon Sheikh’s more humane approach. To be clear, it is not intended to simply ignore the pain attendant to being forced from one’s homeland. That suffering is part of what makes the lives of these people remarkable. Instead, the intent is to shift the focus of the documentary toward present issues and struggles related to establishing new lives in a new country. In this way, this documentary proposes to acknowledge hardship and loss, without becoming too emphatically laden by them.
The following is from an “expression of intent” that I plan to provide to people who may be interested in the project:
I’m interested in meeting and collaborating with refugee and migrant people and families, who are at different stages of establishing new lives for themselves in Wellington. The intent is to photograph these people: celebrating the links that they still have to their origins, interacting with their adopted communities, and in places that they see as “theirs”.
Today, I met with the president of Wellington’s Afghan Association. I admire that he is not “backward about coming forward”, and genuinely wants to see the people of his community openly celebrate their origins, while interacting fully with their new society. I found this inspiring.