Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Technical Obsolescence

Technical Obsolescence

The cameras put out to pasture
do not decay, do not collapse
back into earth as might
an apple, leaves unattached to limbs.
Organic matter will
denature itself, left untended
for long enough. But
the cameras persist, bricks of black
plastic. Inside of homes,
these cameras are first forgotten, on shelves,
in drawers and closets. Next,
at the dump, or spoon-fed back into
the land. The lenses are pressed
up against other items rendered
obsolete, fallen
into disuse. Evolution
cannot revive these cameras.
They are our creatures, our creations,
so even now, clutched
within their hearts like old prayers,
memories we won't
remember, and our images
are permanently burnt
onto their film, although this
will fade, will decompose.


  1. This one really gets to me. When I find an old camera lost on a table at a garage sale or in a church resale shop, I rescue it. I have a small collection that watches over my studio, and they never cease to inspire some questions about what their eyes have seen.

    I am especially moved by your lines "Evolution/cannot revive these cameras. / They are our creatures, our creations..." The word forlorn comes into my mind when I think of them as you've described.

    I would love to read a story or see a short film, some sort of conscious montage that shows what a camera has witnessed. What would I learn about other people's lives? What would my old cameras say about me? Thank you for this lovely poem and these thoughts to carry with me today...


  2. Early cameras have a power and a mystery, including the old Brownie box cameras. I'm not sure today's digitals, with their "hidden" lenses, will excite us so much, when their batteries have failed; but perhaps the memories we attach to them will keep them alive, as well.

    "...clutched within their hearts like old prayers, memories we won't remember..." - I hope we'll remember, and that old photographs, like old cameras, will always find a home. It's sad to think photographs are impermanent, and have a shelf life, unless we've taken steps to preserve them, and refresh them by copying them into newer formats.

  3. How interesting read your thread on Accidental Mysteries. I love Rebecca Ridsdels’s work and to read your poem "Surface" inspired by her was a lovely circle.


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