I wonder how many of you remember when the television images were delivered over the air. Some TV sets had antennae called ‘rabbit ears’, two telescoping rods emerging from a moveable base which, when moved around the top of the set and twisted to the right position, would catch the best signal and transform it to the picture tube. Every now and then the picture would desynchronize and ‘flip’. The picture would slant to horizontal and squeeze vertically and begin to roll up the screen. The moving stripes were very annoying and someone, usually Mom or Dad would have to make mysterious adjustments to make it stop.
One day, I figured out how to make it stop by itself. All I had to do was say, “Mom!” very loudly. The first time I did this, I actually wanted my mother to come an stop the flipping. By the time she answered, it had stopped. On subsequent flips, I said the secret word and it would stop. Mom didn’t understand and got quite annoyed at being called again and again.
Today’s watercolor experiment:
Yesterday’s experiment was based on a TV image of my brother Dave and me, as I was helping him ride a two-wheeler. My archives also contain another TV image of that frame of film. This image, shown below, is distorted, not by flipping but by an artifact of the ‘pause’ function of a video tape player. Several of the same image were superimposed on each other.
The abstraction of the original image, achieved by a series of mechanical and electronic transformations struck me as an equivalent to the dissolution of some memories. Some memories are so abstracted in my mind, that I no longer have the ability to form an image in my mind’s eye. I can remember that an event happened, and have a feeling about it, but can’t picture it. I hope I’m not getting aphantasia… I don’t think so because I still see vivid images in my dreams. Probably, the experience from that time, wherever it was housed in my brain faded away. I can only replenish it by looking at an image from that time and work backwards to reimagine the experience in some way.
All neuropsychological speculation aside, the distorted image is grist for my artist’s mind in trying to portray old memories. Perhaps I can create my own meaningful abstractions of old memories without the ‘training wheels’ of machine-made deformations of an original image.