My Analog Past

I loved doing the graffiti sketches of the past couple of months, and I’m sure I will return to more draftsman-like subjects, but for now I want to challenge myself in a different arena.

Here is the basis for the art to follow:

My Analog Past

Everything is digital these days. These days? How about for the past 30 years? The digital environment has been around long enough that people in their 20s and even 30s have never experienced analog media. They have a digital past. The snapshots their parents took have the same crystal clarity as they had on the camera screen the day the kids were posed and told to smile for the camera; or when they were playing with their brother or sister or the other kids on the block. Nothing has faded or will fade.

Will the memories of the kids match the images preserved, as a prehistoric insect in amber? If they don’t match, will they defer to the ‘truth’ of the image?  In their futures will their, by-then aged parents tell them, “Who are you going to believe, your own memory or the reality I caught digitally?”

There is a lot less ‘wiggle room’ now than there used to be. Old, faded, blurry images made on film can be a source of inspiration for the memory rather than the gold standard by which to measure the truth of one’s recollection.

That’s why i’m grateful for my analog past.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I don’t know where this line of artistic inquiry will lead, but I begin with a transcription of some stills of an old 8mm movie that my father took of his three kids playing in the streets of late 1950s suburbia. My brother Mike is in some of the shots, which means it is prior to 1962, when he went to Willowbrook. Mike is autistic, nonverbal and very low functioning; Dave, my younger brother is also there. I haven’t spoken about him much in my blog since he was much further removed in years from Mike. Mike had a lasting impact on me and, I suppose that’s why I have a special interest in memory, questioning what happened and whether I missed any smidgen of evidence of communication.

Today I start with a still of Dave and me. I’m helping him learn to ride a bike. The 8mm movie camera captured a moment of time on a smooth surface of film. This analog image was transcribed to videotape, another analog medium and finally to an analog television tube.

Photograph: Scene from 8mm Film - Jack with Dave on a Bike

Jack with Dave on Bike
Memory Transcribed from Analog Film to Analog Tape

My own memory adds some details to this scene: 1) a pale blue jacket that my brother is wearing, probably nylon stuffed with some kind of insulation; 2) my red leather hat with ear flaps; 3) my brown coat, that I don’t really remember, but that’s what I say it is… who’s going to argue?  which is the point, isn’t it?

Watercolor: Scene from 8mm Film - Jack with Dave on a Bike

Jack with Dave on Bike
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I don’t know how deep this vein of inquiry will go, but I hope everyone will bear with me. As always, I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful comments.

4 thoughts on “My Analog Past

  1. I’ve often thought of doing something similar when going through my mother’s photos. Looking forward to it!

    As to digital vs analog…I’ve lost quite a few photos I took digitally…at least if I have them stored somewhere I don’t know where it is. Whereas that has not yet happened with the actual printed photos in my care. And I remember printed photos in a way that doesn’t happen with digital images. But maybe that’s a generational thing. (K.)


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