A few days ago I found the negatives from a 35mm film I took while spending two months in Tibet sometime around 2005 (before digital photography was all the rage). Not a remarkable find, but I'd been meaning to reprint them as I'd lost the original prints to an accident with leaking water quite a few years ago. The negatives contained the stimulus to a series of memories for me that hadn't been tangible for a number of years, they'd only lived in my head. That's when I started playing with the idea of a tool that would re-stimulate my memory, and what the relationship to those memories in the past might mean for where I am now. This was particularly interesting to me as the said trip to Tibet in 2005 was a pretty meaningful one as you'd imagine from such a remote, ancient and spiritual country. The photos were all largely taken on a long road trip across the sub zero Himalayan tundra in a 4x4 with a driver who didn't speak a word of English. In this Now & Then was born.
The basic principle is illustrated below and documented here. In short it involved digitising the negatives with the help of the photo labs at Jessops, automating a series of crops and resizes and then randomly loading these images into both a bespoke web app and Instagram account. Finally I paired the random images with random short texts by the likes of Tolstoy, Ghandi plus some stuff by myself.
The results are a tool that has already got me thinking. About universes and multivereses, about string theory about non linear time, and histories ability to effect the present aswell as the past. And about the detail you forget and the feelings you remember. Here's a taster of it's random output..
Not a remarkable feat, the whole thing was concieved and created in a day much like the Wisdom Tooth. But an interesting exercise all the same. And with lots of people potentially like myself with boxes of old media films and prints at the back of the cupboard, it could be a way to use our past to stimulate our present and future with the digital tools that are now part of our daily lives. Now & Then.