Friday, January 20, 2012

The death of Kodak

"When was the last time you looked at a photo album?"
the news reporter asks,
a trembling teenage boy conjuring up a childhood memory.
"It has to be six or seven years ago," he says,
and we cut to a piece about the death of Kodak.
We just take and store our photos in a different way,
they're saying,
and my bookshelf panics
wondering if it will be cleared in favour of a machine.
For those nights when there's nothing on the telly,
or afternoons that call for a pot of tea,
or when you're trying to remember who came to that party,
I like to go through my albums of printed
yes, printed photographs.
How novel, it seems, that these archaic albums exist, now
that we have the opportunity to
watch our memories on a slideshow,
tagged with the attendees,
on another screen.
We have become a world of screen junkies:
why read a book when you can have a baby screen;
it's just like the real thing,
look,
you can turn the pages and everything.
It looks just like the pages of a real book!
Except, well, it's not.
And what happens if you want to lend your book to a friend, or
you drop it in the bath, or
you'd like a reading session that
isn't dependent on battery life.
I don't know about you,
but I spend at least eight hours a day
a slave to the screen,
so the thought of curling up with
another humming LED display of an evening
fills me with dread.
I remember when at gigs,
it would be a sea of lighters,
a romantic fan's tribute to how much they love the song.
Then it was mobile phones held aloft,
so your loved one would listen to it too.
It then became a photo on a mobile phone,
then a video on a mobile phone,
and now it's an iPad held proudly.
Picture an intimate gig,
and the dickhead next to you is
watching the entire thing through an iPad,
his arms wobbling with the endurance,
his mind already forgetting what he's seen.
I want to argue over an over-folded Ordnance Survey map,
lend you my dog-eared Raymond Carver, well-loved,
be asked to sit down and look through your
physical,
actual,
tangible,
real-life photo album
(even if it's pictures of you at Disneyland, or
swimming with dolphins).
Don't put my address book into a memory chip,
that at one strike could be obliterated;
don't ruin a pub debate over who co-starred with
Meryl Streep in The River Wild by
looking it up on fucking IMDB;
I don't want to know,
I want to get there myself,
without you,
and your guest wifi,
and your shiny palm buddy,
a touch-screen conversation-killer;
I want us to wait for the photos to be developed;
a four-day limbo - a lesson in patience,
without deciding we look shit in that photo you've just shown us
on the display screen,
so could you take it again?