I had a sleeping room in Abie Label's "artist colony" on the 11th floor of the Frye Hotel near Seattle's Pioneer Square at the end of 1966.Most of my Pike Place Farmers' Market shots were taken using Ektachrome 127 film, in the "baby" Rolleiflex TLR camera my Dad brought back from Europe after WWII. He gave it to me when I turned 18 and graduated from high school. I found a box of the film gathering dust on a shelf at Tall's Camera Supply on 3rd Avenue, where I worked. Because I was employed at Tall's, my Kodak processing mailers were discounted, and I got free processing at Technicolor, Tall's corporate owner. As a result, I amassed a collection of several thousand images in a short time, for an amateur.
In 2010, and having dragged myself into the world of digital technology, I'm scanning each 127 transparency by sending it twice through a 35 mm Nikon Cool-scan, once side-to-side, and once top-to-bottom, always losing critical areas of each image. This took most of a year, working several hours at it daily. So far, so good.
It's a small miracle that the images are still viable. They have been widely traveled, and never preserved under optimal conditions. They have been trayed and projected countless times, in the beginning as the basis of a psychedelic '60s light show, in circumstances where lots of tobacco (and other) smoke, oils, colored water, spilled drinks, dust and transient photons were present. They've been handled carelessly by people of all ages. Some of the more interesting ones were destroyed as a result.
Now, digital scanning and Photoshop make it possible to duplicate, enhance and share them with a new generation of enthusiasts. If the viewers of today are as enthusiastic to see them as those of two generations ago, that would be significant, and the project will be deemed a success. And that's just the photographs. Backers will get to read the stories that the images evoke, as written by the one who recorded them, and who wrote this introduction.
It's a story not many have heard; few who appreciate the history of underground arts movements will want to miss it. All that is needed for me to share it with you is this opportunity provided by Kickstarter.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge is the deterioration in each image over the 45 years since the films were exposed. Many have been damaged to an extent that no amount of Photoshopping can remedy, and that isn't desirable in any case, where it might change the impression of the whole image. If there is risk, it is that the images will be permanently obliterated by the cumulative effects of time, and the poor conditions of storage. One possible side-benefit of this project would be a bidding contest between organizations seeking to archive them for posterity.
The other risk and challenge is occasioned by the fact that I am almost 70, and while I am in fine shape today, my future is a lot closer than most of those who will back the project. In the unlikely event that the project was backed to an extent two or three times the goal set, because of the highly personalized rewards design, the maintenance workload would be daunting. It would shift the experience and yield from the realm of a self-satisfying labor of love toward the realm of a big job. Still satisfying, but lots of labor, and perhaps less love.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)