Remembering the telephone
By Georgina hahn
Inside my film camera, I have impressions of time taken over the past few days. Those moments are there, spooled around a plastic canister, waiting for their hour of revelation.
But how can I explain this process to a five-year-old?
Joaquin is used to things instantly available at his fingertips. One day after school, we took some film photographs, and he couldn’t understand where they went. I told him they were there on the film but that we had to wait to see them - not too long though, because this roll was almost finished. Two chocolate-chip colored eyeballs looked at me bewildered. Joaquin has an Instagram, and he’s used to being photographed with iPhones, plastic-encased silver devices that look nothing like the original chord telephone nor the traditional film or digital camera. When we passed a street sale on the corner of 4th street and Avenue B advertising some of these vintage technologies, he wasn’t able to recognize most of them - the only one he did recognize was the telephone. I tried to explain how a phone with a chord operates, but it was lost on him as his Mama texted us from work.
Maybe Joaquin doesn’t know what a film camera looks like or how a telephone works - I only have a slight idea myself - but the time they take to use, the gears and processes embedded within them for us to see, create a pause in our instant and fabulously digital lives.
Joaquin recognized the telephone, but how many generations will it take until these things are archival junk? If our devices continue to evolve and conceal their processing, when will these things become a total mystery to the average person? And what will be lost in the experience? For now, however, how wonderful it is when we remember the telephone.
Photographs by Joaquin, age five and me, age twenty-one.
Taken in New York City on October 5th, 2017.
Developed film processed by Luster Photo Digital.