Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mark Osterman of the 19th Century

I had the great pleasure of attending an emulsion making class put on by Mark at the George Eastman House, with Kodak photo engineer Ron Mowry. Mark's enthusiasm for old photographic processes is very appealing to me as I am a process freak, having developed various exotic processes for producing the likes of acoustic nanofilm etc. Many alternative or traditional processes will be kept available through the efforts of Mark and others.

It is not hard to see that these are "real" photographs. Not still video images. The Nikon D700 that I rented produces a high quality still video image that resembles a photograph shared on the internet, which is what we do nowadays.

I disagree with Mark's assertion that we are at the end of film. Far from it, new photosensitive nanomaterials (all film is a nanotechnology) and optically enabled surfaces, and materials science in general, portend a continued use, and eventual regrowth, of light sensitive materials for a lot of purposes, including pictorial use.

Most people won't even be aware of it, except certain artists and scientists, maybe for a long while, but it is happening now.

We are in a transitional period, a digital age, to be superseded by another age. It will take some time. Meanwhile, there is no danger of the millions of Speed Graphics and other non-electronic cameras disappearing in 300 years. None. There are just too many of them. If they sit mute for a decade or more, that won't matter much.

More good things from Mark, here. 
And even more, here, including a step by step guide to making your own dry plates!


Anonymous said...

I agree with you concerning the matter of the survival of film. I mean, only looking at the recent tears and how the interest in analogue photography has grown, I kind of find it hard to be believe that we are in "the last days of film". And even if the interest were to dwindle again, I think there will still be a lot of interest in the medium from those who prefer to use. I know I do - I absolutely love the analogue process.

Bob Crowley said...

Well, know for sure we will eventually be in a post-digital age when quantum computing becomes reality and there is no longer a distinction between real molecules and bits of information.

However the so-called lay press which is ubiquitous presents a sort of accepted popular reality that is barely skin deep on any subject. Popular snapshooting and pictures has been replaced (and a lot of memories are being deleted) while Facebook substitutes for community. Ham radio, the first electronic social network, is still around. In fact there are more licensed individuals who choose to have personal access to spectrum now than ever. What does that tell you about obsolescence?