Looking at Anthony Friedkins’ Gay Essay it was easy to be taken back. I
visited Troopers Hall once or twice, but I couldn’t help but ponder
something deeper in reflecting upon his images, the people in them and
ultimately that favorite topic of wonder, time.
I don’t know how I feel about time. Man-made invention to keep the world
in order or a cheap reason to sell clocks,it is and has always been,
something. Time is made most memorable of course through photography, that
quiet stealing of a moment, proposing truth, revealing a mystery and
forever gaining dust. Time steals, this we know. Watching a 30s comedy, we
do the math, the actors most likely are all dead. We are watching a fluid
photograph of images of dead people. We are experiencing a Sixth Sense.
Still images or portraits as we like to call them, capture a moment, a
quick glance, a frozen instance in the life. Like galleries, we too
collect images, the black and white Tri-X images of our youth, the SX-70
Polaroid film of our adolescence, the Kodak moments of our happy, colorful
life; all captured and stored in worn boxes, shelved in quiet
consideration of time.
So it was coming upon a photograph of my dear friend Richard at 17, posing
in the Trooper’s bathroom in 1973. Time and age. Time and age. We are
never prepared for age nor time really lest the perpetual clicking of some
clock somewhere. That anthesis of photography, the mirror, will tell you
the truth, if only you will let it. We seldom do but for a gradual wearing
away of the skin, the hair, the body, told only in the stories of the eye.
The camera, on the other hand, is that instrument of eternity. We see
ourselves locked in a youthful embrace of a season of love, an old lovers
quick smile, and we have to remind ourselves that is of a thing called the
Whoever invented the concept of the past, present and future knew
intimately about time, though one can only wonder when the present becomes
the past, the future the present. These are matters that when looked upon
too closely, can conjure a kind of madness like molecules and electrons,
present, but hardly understood.
So we stick to the knowing, the things understood collectively as a human
beings and that would bring us back to time and age.
We are ill prepared for age, because it is one of those things that we
really don’t want to know like the stunning fact that we are all going to
die. Age is the preparation for that eventuality. We grow old. The images
of ourselves taken in bathrooms in the 1970s have little do with the man
now in his late 50s, other than reminding him that he doesn’t look, not
even remotely like that, now. He doesn’t have, even in any remotely
logical sense, anything of that person in his current being. He can
remember, he can recall and he can ponder all the words starting with re
and it will never bring him back to that moment, in reality. Because time
and age changed him. That is what it does, the exact opposite of the
photograph, which holds firm and insists on the moment.
Many have considered photography magical. It revives the memory of dead
parents, friends and parents, it take us a to place where we have been but
can never get to, again. That place in time, that moment, much like a
kiss, which quietly moves the surroundings into the background, brings us
strangely into the moment and nothing else.