...Days Later

As this fucking computer world would have it (or more specifically control it) the power adapter on the damn thing 'popped' when I plugged it in (it was not a loud powerful 'pop', just enough to let me know that it was in control and that I should take 330,000 Lire and through it out the window before the computer would work again). Little did Ike (the computer) know that I had another one in the states and that Michele was coming over and she could bring it, and she did.

So I am up and writing again. After some quiet and frustrating days I am perplexed about how to catch up. I guess the best thing is to just be a Nike commercial.

On September 26 I had my first meeting at the Cineteca with Ms. Angela Tromellini. A wired framed, wired acting, graceful and intelligent woman who is fighting a battle to save and preserve photography in this city where photography is still fighting to be considered and appreciated as an art.

There, I think that is a fair and, as I see it, accurate description of the situation.

After describing my project and showing her my book her first response, spoken through rough English was: "Your idea does not sound very interesting to me!"

"Well" I thought to myself, "This is great! After all of this planning and traveling half way around the world to get here, the main person that I need to get interested in my project's first words are: "your idea is not very interesting". So I grabbed my newspaper and ran as fast as I could out the door and headed back to Rochester.

As I rounded the first bend of the library after going through the courtyard and headed into the main reading room, I ran chest first into an oncoming wall of books carried by a librarian who has been working in this building since its construction some three to four hundred years ago. We both spilled and as I came out of the dizziness I was in heaven, looking up at the ceiling through the pearly gates.

Actually, this thought ran through my mind for a small fraction of a second, but after a little discussion (her fair English, my non existent Italian, and Frencesco's wonderful translations) we began to communicate about what it was I really wanted to do and she became quickly interested and excited. In a flash (as I came to find out she always moves like this) she was running (literally) around the Cineteca grabbing books, photographs, even negatives to show me all that was available.

After we talked for a short time she informed me that she would help me with my project and that she found it interesting now that she had a better idea about what I wanted to do.

My interest in archives prompted her to invite me to see a collection that the Cineteca has just purchased. It was from the last truly old Portrait Studio in town. She wished that they would have been able to document the studio before the family began to disassemble the studio. By the time the Cineteca discovered that the business was going to be dissolved and the archive sold, it was too late to document this last truly 'old time' portrait studio.

The day to move the studio was in coming and I was invited to come and see what it looked like. I accepted and met her at there the next morning and got a brief tour of a few generations of careers of hard working photographers reduced to a few stacks of boxes. It was strange to me to see two persons' life works organized into boxes.

It seems strange to me, the few times I've been in retired photographers studios. When I look around I see so much of myself in all the organization, ideas, dreams, projects, loves, hates, et/al. I get quite depressed! All that is so important to us as we are in our careers seems to get old and cracked like the home made sinks that I have seen in all these studios. All the gadgets that seemed at one time so necessary now are all arranged in a box trying to be sold to the next dreamer who's 'stuff' will one day end up in the same box ready for the next, who at that point will wonder how that big old heavy thing was ever used.

I get a feeling of my own temporary existence by looking at all of this. I wonder what are we all (humans & artists in particular) trying to do or to leave behind us. Is that our main goal; to be immortal?

I think that there is too much being left behind by humans ('artists' & non) let alone trying to make myself immortal. If I leave behind something that is only a nice design (and I have plenty of those kind of photos) then I am acting only out of ego. By ego I mean that I feel it is so important to leave some massive archive of things that those who see it feel how wonderful I was, or perhaps they can get a sense of my quest, my passion for life and discovery. My hope is to have touched one or two souls and to have helped them to see and to appreciate the life they live just a little more. I know that I have done that already so I guess that I am a success and I'm all done.

There is more to it than that. There is ego involved in it. I do want to be respected and well known in the field (and elsewhere). I can not be honest and not admit that.

What I admire are the people who work with impermanence. I find those people have interesting ideas. There is a man in Bologna who I see making chalk drawings on the walk. He works for days on a drawing. As I go by and drop a few coins in his basket he does not acknowledge that I have done so, he just keeps working.

Once I photographed him working on a very complicated piece of Mother Teresa. Each day I would pass and it would get bigger and more complex. My coins would go unnoticed bouncing in the basket.

I continued to pass for three more days, each day it grew more and more interesting and complex. The fourth day I passed and it was gone! Completely washed out by something. And there he was, starting another one. Same person different subject, still ignoring my coins flipping into the basket.

My main reason for working in Photography is that it is my best teacher. It teaches me about myself. It is the way that I grow and learn. It is an excuse. It is my life. It is a way of life. It is who I am!

Keith Smith writes: "...let it happen, allow the work to do what it wants to. Don't force yourself onto it. Don't preach with your work. It should be the opposite. Work so rapidly or concentrated that you allow yourself to be less conscious of it. Let it flow out of you paying little attention. Then, afterwards, look and think - but not while you are doing it. In this way the work will be your best teacher, in art, and in showing you who you really are."