Monday, April 19, 2021


Morning folks - y'see, there I was with the germ of an idea for a post, and I started, and got a title and everyfink, and then I continued expounding until all I had was a page full of words and myself, tied up in unreadable nonsense.
Goodness it was long and dull, and I got to the point whereby I thought, I really can't get myself out of this corner I've painted myself into.
So what did I do? 
Yep, chopped it all out and started again. 
(It had taken me bloody weeks too).

I like the title though, don't you?

Here's a little snippet from der Wiki:

In his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also sprach Zarathustra), Nietzsche has his character Zarathustra posit the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself. The Übermensch represents a shift from otherworldly Christian values and manifests the grounded human ideal. It is a work of philosophical allegory, with a similar structure to the Gathas of Zoroaster/Zarathustra.

And with that title came this picture . . . not that it has anything to do with grounded human ideals.

It was taken around the back of Duncan Of Jordanstone College Of Art, a couple of years back.
Camera was a Hasselblad 500C/M and a 60mm Distagon, on I think Ilford HP5, developed in Pyrocat-HD.
I don't know what mentor and surrogate father-figure Joseph McKenzie would have made of it, but I wish I'd had the balls and the eyes to present something like it back in the 1980s'.

Why I think it suits the title I have no idea - maybe it's my deep subconscious at work. 
Anyway, in hindsight, I really should have taken the legs home.

Übermensch 1
Hasseblad 500 C/M, 60mm Distagon, FP4+

The splashy stuff and writing are as a result of me resting the lens hood against a window and focusing on the legs - there's something about reflection photos taken this way that adds an air of dreaminess to an already unreal scene. 
Thank goodness it was just a wired safety door and not double-glazed. 
Double glazing ruins most reflection shots.
Hmmm - Übermensch - Beyond Man.

Whilst not as photogenic as the legs, the title also brings this picture to mind.

Übermensch 2

The above could be a file snapped on a phone, but it isn't.
It's Hard Data - exposed silver halide on a polyester base, printed in a darkroom on resin coated paper. 

Snapped from a bus, on a dark, wet Winter's night with a Nikon F, that moment is now out in the world.
A private observation becomes tangible, physical.

The negative exists in a file, in a folder, on a shelf; the print in a box.

I can hold that strip of negatives in my hand, taking them out carefully and print them. 
When I use film and make prints, by chemical process, I bring light and time into being. 

That point in my life when I took that photograph is cemented into emulsion.

When I started thinking about this it quickly became very weird indeed:

I have stopped time

Pulled a piece of the universe away from its fabric.

Maybe it's no surprise that indigenous peoples feared the camera because they thought it would steal their soul.

I photograph you at a moment in time and make that part of you, then, into a physical representation of you in a print.
The print is the child of the negative.
The negative is another version of you because you will never be that version of yourself again.
That version of you, captured, exists; but unlike say a reflection in a pool, it has become an object that transcends the momentary.

You could argue that the image fixed in emulsion is truly unreal

Even without the translation process of printing, negatives are strangely beautiful objects.

I enjoy looking at them in their own right.
I like the way that (at the right angle and with the right light behind them) you can see a ghostly brown-grey positive image. 
I like the fact that they have to be handled carefully, and cherished really, like delicate children.

Hmmm - Übermensch - Beyond Man. 
Hmmm - Jenseits der Zeit - Beyond Time.

Talking of which.
The negative and the print of this exist. 

Stranger In Town
© W. Eugene Smith / Magnum Photos - All rights reserved

They're not data in the cloud, they're physical; beyond binary 1's and 0's, a human has taken materials and not only torn a piece from the fabric of the Universe, but also turned them into something that goes way beyond their mere physicality.
This photograph, whilst obviously old (1942 actually) transcends time. 
It speaks eloquently and across the ages, to all.
Who hasn't, at least once in their lives, felt like this?
Stranger In Town.

I'll leave the last word to another from my old mate Eugene Smith. 
Possibly the finest photograph ever taken in my eyes.
As full of grace, power, emotion, skill, craft and beauty as anything ever produced by anyone ever.

Nun Waiting For Survivors - Andrea Doria 1956
© W. Eugene Smith / Magnum Photos - All rights reserved

It might have been set-up as he was wont to do at times, however I am not sure of that. 
It speaks in spades, communing emotion way beyond the event and beyond time itself.
I've looked at this image hundreds of times and yet every time my eyes are drawn to the beauty and poise of the Nun, and then to the small bear in her hand, and I am moved. Moved beyond it's reality as a mere photograph.
To tears.
A translator to the life beyond, caught so very briefly in a deeply human and humane moment.
Almost eternal.

And that's it - you can start stroking your whispy, lockdown, humanities teacher, proto-beard and go Hmmmmmmm.

Over and out - photography next time, and lots of it, and I might not even shut-up.

Beam Us Up Scotty!

P.S. - I latterly discovered a nice little article about the meaning of the word, or meanings of the word - hey, Quantum Philosophy!
You can find it here.