Photos

I remembered an odd feeling that once haunted me, whenever I took a photograph in the street. Now, we take photos all of the time: photos of ourselves; photos of each other; photos of sunrises and billboards; photos of cocktails of blackberry and gin; photos of plates of sweetbreads, or pork cheek or pineapple; photos of the dawn or midnight; photos of our nudity and clothing; photos of the blur of streetlights from the top deck of a bus, or a line of trees on the horizon seen from a moving train. Back then, photos were relatively rare, however, a minor discipline, an outsider art. While cameras were available to all, the idea of taking more than one photo a day, at least for most of us, was an odd idea. Who had the time to record each moment? And so, when I took a photo in the street, perhaps of an odd kind of door, or the patterns of decimated paint on a section of wood, I’d imagine someone approaching, tapping me on the shoulder, and asking in tones that were really quite severe: ‘What do you think you’ve seen?’ And I would be unable to answer, because the photo would be sealed in time, for later developing, or else it would appear on a minute screen without real definition. I often wonder what happened to this imagined interlocutor, whether he (because he is a he, surely?) still exists in someone else’s imagination, or whether he has passed into oblivion, exhausted, now, by his intemperate and censorious demands.

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