My good friend Maris Rusis is on a visit to the Big City, and staying with me for a few days.
Following his drive down from the Sunshine Coast in the early hours of this morning, a restorative strong short black coffee was proffered by me, and to my surprise a pleasant gift offered in return. A genuine hand-crafted gelatin silver print of yours truly posing proudly beside a new purchase. The image had been taken last year with Maris’ Seagull 4A103A, twin lens reflex camera. Maris had purchased this camera some fifteen years ago with the intention of learning the black art of 6x6cm film exposure. Whilst the camera has had varied reviews over the years it is still a cult camera, despite its “knock-off of a Rolleiflex” reputation……..
My joy at the receipt of this lovely print was more centered around the title and the verso annotation. Maris is meticulous in his titles, annotations, dating, signing – all the information that an historian/curator/librarian would seek when attempting to identify or describe an image. What further pricked my curiosity was the lack of personal identification (to save my ego it was noted in the verso annotation) in the title. In other words, in an historical sense, my personage had been reduced to that of the proud owner of a vehicle that may be recognisable as imported to Australia, placed in an anonymous landscape.
Is the image still a valuable document? Taking my ego out of the equation, yes it is. There are descriptors within the image to hint at ownership; value judgements about class and status; comments on dress (positive or negative); and just enough technical details to excite the automotive nutter. These are the values that a photograph should possess – even an image as humble and simple as a record shot.