A small tribute to photographic film

Photograph: "A small tribute to photographic film" - © Marco Ristuccia

Photograph: “A small tribute to photographic film” – © Marco Ristuccia

I’m cutting as usual the strips of black-and-white photographic film developed yesterday. I then scan and store them in transparent sleeves. It’s a slow and methodical ritual, which culminates in the ever renewed surprise to discover the shots’ details on my computer monitor. I don’t make analog prints anymore, I am a lover of hybrid techniques: I shoot on film because the process, slow and thoughtful, is useful to me. I print digital because it gives me more creative freedom. I hate religions, I pursue my visions.

At age 45 I finally realised that my true calling is integration, in the broadest sense of the term. Connecting, crossing different languages and protocols together, that’s what I do as a computer scientist, as a photographer and in my private life. I like to clamp things and people together, no matter how different they are. The operation leads to a result which is superior to the sum of the addends. It remains curious however – or perhaps symptomatic – that a person like me, who doesn’t like sociality that much, devotes himself to the interaction between “others”.

After the ordinary ritual my eye falls on the film scraps, the discarded cuts lying on the table. Sometimes sparse, sometimes overlapping, they are like thinned hair over the barbershop’s floor. I tilt my head left and right and start looking at their transparencies, aligning and decomposing, combining and breaking the mental geometries.

The vision arises like the sun at dawn, and the mystery repeats: out of darkness comes the light. This is the moment I love the best: the birth of an idea, so ephemeral and powerful at the same time. Like the very instant I fall asleep, I can never catch and crystallise it in its entirety. It remains a blurred, underexposed, and dodged photograph.

I gather the film cuts, turn the light table on and start to work. And I soon realise that film remains always coherent to itself. Its manipulation takes time, concentration and reflection. The process for me is always the same: the composition is instinctive, the alignment is slow and methodical. Then I suddenly stab the insistency of my formal rigor. “Those are real world objects.”, I reproach, “Let them have their imperfection, it is their best quality!”. I stop myself, the game is done, rien ne va plus.

So comes up this small tribute to photographic film which, led to another level, also becomes a tribute to the last. Scraps, clippings destined to be thrown away turn into a photography artwork. I know I’m neither the first nor the last to have had this intuition. But feeling it inside, living and understanding it deeply is very different from distractedly observing a book or an exhibition. This small experience will increase my awareness of photography and world. And that’s what counts.

By the way, now I’m not able to throw the clippings away anymore.

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