A couple of weeks ago I was rummaging around in my freezer when it became painfully clear that I needed to free up some space.
The time had come when those two, half-used bags of Trader Joe’s chicken breasts covered with freezer burn needed to go. Oh, and the four bags of equally freezer-burned edamame, two containers of chili leftover from last Christmas and … alright, all those yellow boxes.
I’ve acutally been storing these yellow boxes in at least 3-4 different freezers for years. Some of them from as far back as 1994. How many people can say they have stuff in their freezer from 1994?
It occurred to me, finally, that I was never going to open up those yellow boxes and consume the contents of them. Or the two cans that were stacked in there with them. So I took all those yellow boxes out of the freezer, along with the two cans that were stacked in there with them, piled it all up on my workbench out in the garage.
After removing the two bags of frozen chicken breasts, four bags of edamame, two containers of chili leftover from last Christmas and all those yellow boxes from my freezer, I found I had lots more room in there to store some other items which used to fall out on the floor whenever I opened the freezer door.
OK, now take a look at the above photograph and raise your hands if you know what it is.
Hmmm, a bunch of boxes with the word Kodak on them. Must be some kind of camera thing. Maybe it’s flash memory or a type of optical storage disk.
If you raised your hand and answered, “film,” you get a gold star either for being smart or for being old.
For those of you who didn’t answer film, if you’re over 20, you need to take some classes.
Film is a kind of cultural artifact from an era (oh, about 5 years ago) long since passed. The word “film” is sometimes used to describe an artform that is considered an important way to inform, educate, entertain and indoctrinate the societies that make them. This is also known as moviemaking or just movies.
For our purposes we’ll refer to film by it’s truest and more technical definition, that of an ancient medium by which images were recorded on thin, flexible sheets of plastic or other material coated with a gooey, light-sensitive emulsion, using cameras through a process called photography.
Photography [fəˈtägrəfē] Noun. The art or practice of taking and processing photographs.
The process of taking photographs didn’t always precipitate the instant gratification we’ve grown accustomed to. Long ago, it entailed expending cash and fossil fuel to purchase film packaged in little yellow boxes usually made by a company based in Rochester, N.Y. After recording your photographs you had to expend more fossil fuel to transport your film to a “photo lab.” Up to a week later you then used more fossil fuel to return to the photo lab, paid more cash to the clerk, a good amount of which went to a company in based in Rochester, N.Y., and your processed film was returned to you along with an envelope usually stuffed with 12, 24 or 36 photographic prints.
Tragically, only about 3% of these photographic prints brought any satisfaction at all. The rest exhibited blobs of orange or black or white usually with some ghostly silhouette of human figures you could almost recognize, proving that photography was not exactly unchallenging.
Just a few minutes after I took the above mentioned photograph I was walking through the aisles at my local Albertson’s store in search of a bag of charcoal briquets which I would use later that night to grill fresh(er), not freezer-burned, chicken breasts.
On the way to the check-out counter with a 25-pound bag of Kingsford on my shoulder, I heard an announcement over the in-house public address system that said if you were a shopper at Albertson’s and you brought your digital photos to the digital photo center located within the store, you could go home with those digital photos stored on an optical storage disk commonly referred to as a CD. This announcement came right between REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” and the Eurythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again.”
What is the point of all this?
Maybe I’m grieving over the gradual and torturous death of a beautiful artform.
For many years I used to consume large amounts of film, most of which came packaged inside little yellow boxes like the ones in the photo above. On an average day, I probably made 200-300 exposures on film.
Now, I might make 200-300 digital captures of little yellow boxes of film so that I have one for a blog post.
Ever since I piled all those yellow boxes on my workbench over two weeks ago, I’ve been looking at them and trying to decide what I’m going to do with them. I decided, that I just can not toss them into the dumpster. That would lead to their being buried in a landfill somewhere in Los Angeles County. I couldn’t bear that so, I took a photograph of them.
Now I’ll probably stuff all of them into a box and continue to store them for many more years to come.
Just not in my freezer.