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Torch song quintet
Fickleness, thy name is Fame. Last year Madonna was the sweetheart of the media set. This year that title must go to a different New York lady, the Statue of Liberty.
The harbor hoopla has inspired a number of photo exhibits. Our favorite very well may be the New York State sponsored “Taking Liberties,” organized by Anthony Bannon. The show—which opened in Buffalo in February—is ingenious, creative, and charming. Furthermore, about 10 percent of its 150 images were submitted by POP PHOTO readers.
In organizing this collection, Bannon wanted to explore the ways in which the Statue of Liberty has been absorbed into our culture. In addition to photos of the Statue, he also included pictures of Statue of Liberty replicas. Bannon told us about a few of the POP PHOTO generated images in “Taking Liberties.”
“Layman Clayborn, Jr. of Kinston, NC was on a senior trip in March, 1984,” said Bannon. “His picture was taken from the gallery pedestal of the statue, and it looked dramatically up. It's a great heroic view that is interestingly identical to one of the earliest aggressively creative views of the statue in theexhibition.”
Richard Schreiber (no relation, we think) of North Huntington, PA sent photosofa five-foot tall Statue of Liberty replica he encounted in Guam. The Pacific statue honored American Servicemen who were there during World War II. Charlton H. Gilbert of New Haven, CT also photographed replicas. He noticed his subjects in the window of a local clothing store. Our professional readers also are represented in the show with a contribution from Aaron Eisenpress, whose photo is described by Bannon as being “just beautiful.”
One afternoon in 1976, several Polaroid executives strip-searched the then-new Kodak instant cameras and were “astonished” at what they discovered, according to a recent story in the Boston Globe. They thought they might find a new technology. Instead, they encountered approaches to instant photography that were uncomfortably familiar.
The Globe article contains a number of delicious battlefront details in the patent infringement suit Polaroid successfully waged against Kodak. The case took 10 years to decide.
Ironically, Kodak and Polaroid were buddies until 1969 when talks between the two broke down. The corporations had been discussing Kodak’s possible involvement with the new SX-70 film being developed by Polaroid. Kodak started working feverishly to create its own instant-photography technology. Kodak’s proud entry exposed film from the back, and Polaroid’s did it from the front. However, Polaroid held patents for both approaches.
The recent decision mandated that Kodak immediately vacate the instant photography business—cameras and films. Some reports suggest that Polaroid might ask for $ 1 billion in damages. Interestingly enough, the Globe article suggests that Kodak might have been able to save both face and funds. Emissaries from the companies met several times to try to arrange a settlement. Apparently, Polaroid wanted a payment from Kodak for past sales, plus a royalty on subsequent sales. Kodak’s offer was described by a Polaroid official as a “nuisance value settlement.”
Many feel that Polaroid’s major asset was not its collection of patents. Rather, they believed credit should go to Edwin H. Land, Polaroid’s founder and guiding spirit. Land’s confidence in the rightness of his company’s cause and his knowledge of the instant-photography field set the tone.
Electronic mail will zip its way into photographers’ hearts, according to author Ira Mayer. Electronic mail is the technology by which information sails, via phone lines, from one computer to another. The two computers can be in neighboring cubicles of the same office or continents apart. Also, the technology uses the computer’s ability to store information, and to summon that info at will. Mayer’s new book, The Electronic Mailbox (Hayden, $ 16.95) is a solid introduction to this new micro age perk.
Some photographers now use electronic mail to send out mass, instantaneous mailings; and, while traveling, stay in touch with clients.
New opportunities will emerge, Mayer told us. More complex visual images will be stored and sent with ease. Already, a number of progressive architects send drawings out through electronic mail, rather than the “old-fashioned” facsimile machines. Mayer also felt that the newer computers—Apple Macintosh, Atari’s ST520 and Commodore’s Amiga—with their greater graphics virtuosity will push the technology along.
Mayer described the possibility of using the computer to search through distant photo libraries for images that will be sent over the phone and onto your computer screen. He also anticipated the computer age version of a venerable tradition.
“Some people send Christmas cards over electronic mail,” said Mayer. “Soon enough, they’ll be able to use family photos as the illustration.”
For more information on Mayer’s book, The Electronic Mailbox, contact Hayden, 10 Mulholland Drive, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604.
Visions of the Bowery
In the late 19th century, there was no bleeding heart coddling of people with disfiguring diseases. Instead, they were called freaks, and allowed to earn their own way as attractions at sideshows and dime museums. Many of them are seen in photographs by Charles Eisenman, whose studio was located in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood where so many of the sideshow attractions lived and worked. Among Eisenman’s subjects were Tom Thumb; Jo Jo, the Dog-Faced Boy; the Wild Men of Borneo; and the Skeleton Man.
A collection of 1,000 Eisenman photos was recently given by Ronald Becker of Peoria IL to Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library. It seems that Becker is moving to an area with a tropical climate that happens to be
unkind to photographs.
The donation was inspired by the interest of Robert Bogdan, Syracuse U. Professor of Special Education. Bogdan intends to use some of the photos as documentary material for his course, “Images of Disability.” One of his students will use the archive for unusual research purposes. She’d like to write a series of poems, based on the photos. An exhibition, taken from the collection, will be mounted (it is hoped) sometime this spring. For more information contact George Arents Research Library, Syracuse University, 820 Comstock Avenue, Syracuse, NY 134-5040.
A sodium saga
You say there are just so many uses for empty 35-mm film cannisters. Hall Brothers, a Utah-based manufacturer of camping items, offers a pair of snap-on lids that convert the little devils into salt and pepper shakers. One Berkley (Ca.) store, REI, which caters to the outdoors
crowd has sold many sets of the Hall lids for $ 1.29 a pair ($1.79 by mail.) REI is located at 1338 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702. For literature about the lids write to Hall Brothers, Box 771, Morgan, UT 84050. This seems to be a most appropriate use for the cast-off cylinders. After all, shouldn’t salt be considered a controlled substance.
Q: What does the well-dressed photo librarian wear?
A: The cataloger’s vest; especially if she’s Elizabeth Betz Parker, a Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division picture cataloging specialist.
Five of Parker’s colleagues stealthily made the vest. They then took her out for coffee and made the grand garment presentation on the occasion of her 15th Anniversary as a Library of Congress employee. The crafty quintet (Sibyl Cole, Marilyn Ibach, Jane Dunbar Johnson, Barbara Ohrbach, and Helena Zinkham) used, as their foundation, a store-bought fishing vest. It already had huge pockets into which could be crammed tools of the trade—e.g. cotton gloves, pencils, and coffee money. Added appliques symbolized great moments in librarianship. The vest was enhanced with a clip to hold blank index cards, as well as an inside
mylar pocket to hold choice Library of Congress regulations and guidelines.
Parker does wear the vest on occasions. (She doesn’t do that much cataloging anymore.) Meanwhile, Parker and friends wonder if some smart library equipment supplier will see the vest and exclaim “Eureka!” O