Thursday, August 12, 2010

Real Julia - not a Spanish football team, but close

Real Julia by Pants

Many megapixels ago, Ma Pants popped a little Kodak under the Pants family artificial Christmas tree. Ever since that happy day I have used it to subvert the basic claim of digital imagery - greater clarity.

Recently, I made a tiny incremental upgrade to a Canon Powershot because they were going very cheap. It's an ill GFC don't blow no one some good. The Canon is better for everyday pics where I want a pelican to look like a pelican but the Kodak is my instrument of choice for one of my favourite occupations.

I admit it's a bit weird to want to use new technologies like digital cameras and flat-screen TVs to create a very old effect like a double exposure. On a certain aesthetic level, a much better result could be achieved in a few minutes using Photoshop.

But I grew up with the obligation to spent a long Christmas holiday with the happy-clapping country grand-parents. The big box of old photos was a source of great imaginary journeys through a family who gave little away. My other choice was to fashion felt figures into pre-determined biblical outcomes. What would you pick?

My grand-parents were all born more than 100 years ago and some of the photos in the big box were of their grand-parents. The photos that I loved the best were the big family portraits where at least one face was lost to history because its owner could not stay still for the requisite minutes required to secure an accurate fix. My family are big sneezers. I've always been interested in the more blurred aspects of life anyway.

I admit I was only half engaged in the discourse transpiring on the ABC-TV programme Q&A when I made this Kodakotype, but I must own to being chuffed when my meagre efforts were rewarded. I need little incentive to remain in bed during this turgid winter so it's absolutely thrilling to me to be able to create while maintaining a resolutely slothful demeanour.

Our electronic media typically refers to our Prime Minister as Muzgalard. This nation will live to regret the latent skimping on elocution tuition that frequently forces previously distinct words into one long sausage of strangled syntax. Adds a new dimension to the term 'mincing words'. Although I'm all in favour of visual blurring, verbal bubble'n'squeak is more difficult to take pleasure in.

The PM's name as it is writ is Ms Julia Gillard. Our media mouthpieces like to place a strong stress on the Ms so that everyone will know how terribly clever and modern we are to have a post-feminist, unmarried woman PM. She's also an atheist but it's a bit more difficult to represent that in speech.

Anyway, the PM has had something of an identity crisis of late. She began her re-election campaign as if she were embarking on the first reading of a part she wasn't all that sure she wanted to play. The all-important opinion polls reacted. She took a painfully long time to settle on a suitable personal style, which was more than a little rattling as her opponent, Mezdarabbit, is thicker than two short planks with George W Bush in the middle. Then she compounded the error by treating us to a running commentary on how she intended to pop herself back on the casting couch and re-emerge as a reinvented 'real' Julia. This little 'making of' featurette did little for her credibility.

But it did give me the opportunity for a neat, if trite, visual metaphor. I am, after all, ethnically Australian so it is in my DNA to be shallow.

Those of us who are pathologically dissatisfied like to fancy that there is an alternative to this world and that the portal through which it can be entered is discoverable if only we can bring ourselves to a worthy state of divine idleness. It may appear that the double-exposure Kodakotype is merely the lucky result of clicking at the precise moment the director makes a decision to switch cameras but to me it is proof of another, more engaging world. It is the hope that keeps me alive.

Our political landscape is a dismal thing. Fortunately, any idiot can run Australia. Many have before and many will again. Meanwhile, I shall keep searching for my fractal escape hatch...