Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The End of Kodachromes and Memory as We Remember It

Sifting through my bin of memories--Kodachromes bedeviled with dust and scratches--I considered whether to leave them as they were with the romantic effect of aging, or return them their youth.

At first, I left them alone, merely scanning each one inside its cardboard frame, retaining their black curved edges as they would appear on a home movie screen. But as I looked at them more and more, I wanted to see them as I imagined them to be direct from the camera store in the years, 1979 through 1982.

At that time, I was an ardent young Christian, working for a non-demoninational Evangelical organization on university campuses. It was my mission to make the world a better place by bringing Christ to the lost.

Today, I have great empathy, if not sympathy, for young Christians or any young person with passionate religious convictions. We are all, better or worse, products of our own cultural backgrounds. We all grew up with our own backyards.

My own backyard was the Baptist Church in the South. Kentucky to be precise. Going to Church every Sunday, getting saved and baptized was just what everyone did. Had I not struggled with my own homosexuality, I can imagine that I may still be there, married with children and involved in a church.

Hours spent in photoshop, carefully removing the grime off the old transparencies took me back to my former life, yet at the same time the restored images brought the past directly into my present scrubbed clean of all the nostalgia. The chasm of the intervening years had come together like two parallel canyon walls divided by a dried up stream bed.

Honestly, I am saddened by the end of the Kodachromes. The past is always seen through the medium of the day, and today's ultra-sharp digital images will influence how future generations look back at our present. How will they see us?

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