February
18th 2010
Behold! A kerfluffle!

Posted under Meta & Photography

So, an interesting thing happened recently. I made some curtains. Maybe you’ve seen them?

Kodachrome curtains

They’re made out of old Kodachrome slides I bought last fall from an antique store in Kansas City. I got a lot of maybe 400-500 slides, plus a few other things, like a crate and a slide projector, for about $25. When Travis and I got home, we sat down on the floor of our living room and went through them, seeing what we had. It was a lot of fun. I scanned in most of them, uploaded some to Flickr, and then put them back in the box. A few months later, I finally got around to trying something I had been wanting to make for a while – a pair of curtains for my front door made out of the old slides. I needed curtains for door. I had slides that I appreciated and liked to look at. It seemed like a perfect match.

The project went together quickly enough, and 3 days later, I was able to hang them up on the door. Hooray! I took some photos, added them to a few groups on Flickr, and did a Craftster post about it, because Craftster is awesome and I’ve been inspired by a lot of projects on there in the past. I figured that because I posted on Craftster, I’d get some more hits than usual on my photos on Flickr, but I didn’t think much about it.

I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning Travis told me the views on my photo were in the thousands, which is crazily huge compared to the regular traffic. And that’s when things started to get a little weird. This is going to be a long post, people, so head on over the jump with me…It turns out Craft featured the curtains, and then Make did, too. Then Lifehacker and and several other sites did as well. Last time I looked, the photo had over 22,000 views on Flickr, which is absolutely nuts. The whole time Travis and I were working on the curtains, I kept saying, “Surely somebody has done something like this before.” And it turns out yes, people have (here’s one example). But for whatever reason, my curtains wound up going viral. I have the most famous curtains on the intertubes! :)

So, I started getting a lot of comments from people on my picture – most are really nice. Some people say they’re going to try making a similar project of their own out of slides they have, which is cool. And there were a few comments from people who seemed absolutely horrified that I was doing this to Kodachrome slides oh my god, don’t you know the sunlight will fade the slides, you’re destroying history, what kind of a monster are you??!! All right, I’m exaggerating a little bit there. A little bit.

I patiently explained that I appreciated discovering found film quite a bit, and have gone out of my way to do so and archive it to the best of my ability. I explained that the most of the slides used in the curtain have been scanned in and saved, and that some have even been uploaded to Flickr, where other people can view them.

One of the guys in the comments got a bit belligerent (I’m not sure if my favorite part was when he asked if I could read, or when he condescendingly offered to take any found slides off my hand to “relieve me of the burden” – the burden of enjoying something I paid for and own, I guess). Apparently, after I refused to just give him stuff I’ve spent money on, he stole the picture posted above and put it on his own website to illustrate a blog post about how I’m destroying history (also, he again failed to mention that I had digitally archived the slides). After someone let me know that he took the photo, I sent him a few cease and desist letters which he seems to have received, read, and ignored. He may be trying to get some traffic to his site through this. I don’t know. That’s not really why I’m writing this.

I’m writing this post, and let the conversation in the comments to the above photo continue even after this one guy started to get all worked up, because I think there’s an interesting, and hopefully respectful, conversation to be had about all this – What, exactly, should be considered history? What should be preserved, and how should it be preserved? Is there some sort of obligation for a private citizen to act as a museum?

I started getting seriously into photography in the spring of 2008. I had always wanted to learn to develop film, and eventually, finding myself with some free time on my hands, decided to bite the bullet and get a book and some chemicals and teach myself how to do it. At about the same time, Travis and I started going to antique stores. The first time I can remember seeing, really seeing, a box camera, I didn’t even know what it was. I’m 33 years old. I had owned a 110 camera, a 35 mm camera, and a few digital cameras at that point.

On a whim, I bought that box camera. Then, a few days later, I picked up a Brownie Twin 20 from the 60s. It was the first, but not the last, camera I bought that had a roll of film in it, an old roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan 620. The struggle to get that roll competently developed was what really pushed me towards developing my own film.

Like a lot of found film that’s still stuck in cameras, whatever pictures had been taken on them didn’t turn out, although 4 or 5 that Travis and I took actually did. Still, the seed was planted – out there in the world are rolls of undeveloped film that have been lost, forgotten about, or neglected. I potentially had the power to collect some of this film, develop it, and bring it to life again! How freaking awesome is that? It’s like having super powers! I am PhotoSaver!

3

The first roll of found film I ever successfully developed was in September of 2008. I had bought a lot of film and negatives off of ebay. I think I bought it because the lot featured a bunch of the old metal film canisters, like these. I had never seen them before, thought they looked neat, and to my surprise, were loaded up with old spent film cartridges and rolled up negatives. One of the rolls was actually exposed and undeveloped, so I took a deep breath and developed it myself. To my delight, I got an entire roll of images from a 40-50 year old roll of Kodak Plus X Pan. Every image was vignette of the past. I was thrilled, scanned them in, and uploaded them to Flickr.

I also painstakingly went through the other negatives in the package and scanned all of them in as well. I use the word “painstakingly” intentionally – some of the film was so old and brittle, it flaked to tiny shrapnel at a touch. Some of the film stunk, and I did a little research and discovered that it was because it was film pre-safety film – meaning that it was exuding gases and highly combustible. I did the best I could recovering the images.

Tightrope

I got all the negatives scanned, uploaded a good cross section of them to Flickr, created a set for any found film I would come across, and added a few of the pictures to Found Film groups on Flickr, sharing them with others, hoping that maybe I could get more info about them.

And that’s what I continued to do – search out cameras in antique shops with film in them, buy them, take them home and develop the film. I’ve spent way too many hours on ebay (although not recently) peering at blurry pictures of cameras, seeing if the red window on the back has a frame number peeking through, indicating it’s loaded with a roll of film. Sometimes I’ll run across collections of slides or negatives that are already processed, and if they’re not too much, I’ll buy those too. I think it’s neat. I scan in the images, digitally archiving them and protecting the image from future degradation, and then upload them to Flickr, giving them a wider audience.

Happy woman

So, the question is, apparently, is that enough? What obligation do I have to the actual, physical object? Or, if you’d prefer, what obligation do I have to future generations?

In one sense, it’s simple – absolutely none. I bought an item, I own it, it belongs to me, and I can do whatever I want with it. With a few exceptions (and I’m thinking of things like zoned land, or a house in a historic district), once you buy an item, the property is yours to do whatever with it. I can go into an antique store, buy a carousel full of slides, walk outside, and systematically tear them up and throw them away (in a garbage can, of course, not on the street, because littering is wrong). That’s perfectly legal. A bit dickish, perhaps, but hey! It’s my property!

On the other hand, there are people, like this guy who stole my photo and called me an idiot, that seems to think that if I’ve purchased an item that he, or some arbitrary person somewhere, thinks might possibly have historical interest, I am obligated to take that item, store it in a shoebox, and not alter it in any way. And if I can’t or am unwilling to do this, I should not buy the item in the first place, leaving it sitting in a dusty, dark corner in an antique store for however many more years before someone else comes across it, or, if I’ve already purchased the item, just give it to someone else who will care for it more than I, obviously a colossal asshole, ever would.

I have a few slight problems with that. :) First off, I’m not just going to give stuff I’ve paid for to some random guy on the internet who has proved how much he cares by being insulting and a thief. People, even though it’s the internet, you are interacting with other human beings behind computers. There’s no need to be a jerk.

Secondly, I stand by the “I paid for it, I own it” theory. I may not like it when somebody buys an acre of woods and plows over it to build a McMansion, but unless that person is breaking a law by doing so, there’s no reason for me to believe that standing on their front lawn and yelling “Hey! You’re a jackass! Give me your land instead!” is actually going to accomplish anything besides, well, just making me look like a jerk.

Thirdly, buying a set of found slides and keeping them in aforementioned and recommended shoebox is no guarantee of archival protection for the slides. Really, it’s not. Is it better protection than making a curtain out of them and hanging that where it received a few hours of sunlight a day? Probably, yes. However, things happen. Fires happen. Floods happen. If you had to evacuate your home in an emergency, would that shoebox of someone else’s old slides be one of the things you grab to save? Maybe, but probably not. I know my priority would be people and pets first, and then to grab our portable computers and hard drives. And, if I had an extra hand and 15 seconds, I’d grab the Nikon D40 to take pictures of our home in flames. Maybe I’d grab the curtains, too, on my way out, since they’re hanging right on my front door. :)

The thing is, I care very much about recovering lost images. I scan them in. I archive them digitally. Those images from the slides that I used to make the curtains? They’re on that hard drive I grabbed running out the door. And if I didn’t have time to get the hard drive, well, at least a good representation of them are still backed up online on Flickr, available for anyone in the world to view if they want.

The person who seems to have the biggest problem with what I’ve done with these slides claims to have similar troves of old slides as well, presumably stored in shoeboxes. Which is great! The more saved images, the better! However, I have no idea if this guy has backed these images up on a computer, or placed them online for public viewing. It doesn’t appear so, just by looking at his Flickr account, but he may have them available elsewhere. Who knows? But if he doesn’t, he might want to consider doing so, especially since he cares so much about history. By placing some of the images I’ve saved online, I’ve had people I don’t know from across the internet give me more information about them.

Lagrange 2

Flickr user exp_resso examined images from a set of slides from 1974 that I scanned in and determined that they were pictures of an Electro-motive Diesel engine testing facility in LaGrange, Illinois.

Seal

I received confirmation from multiple Flickr peeps that this and other pictures from the same batch were taken at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. How cool is that? I was able to tag the photos with that information, and now anyone on the internet that is looking for vintage pictures of the Audubon Zoo has a chance to come across these.

So, in sharing these lost photos with others, have I fulfilled any obligation I might have with future generations? I think so. I think I’m good. I dug up photos, in some cases, processed them myself, spent time and money doing so, archived them digitally, and made them available to the world.

What, then, to do with the actual, physical thing? For me, that depends. Most of the negatives I have are either stored in those clear, archival sleeves, or, if they’re too fragile to be laid flat, stored in the little metal film canisters. The slides are in boxes (not shoeboxes, I’m afraid). Some of the slides are now a curtain. Some of them are a lamp. Some of them are in a wallhanging thing I just finished making for my mom (Happy birthday!). They’re on display, to be viewed by my family or visitors, until I want to redecorate or they fade on their own. I go to my front door to let the dog out, and stand and look at all the tiny pictures of people riding horses, and am captivated by it. And if they fade, that’s okay, because I know the image has been preserved. And if I think of alternate uses for any of the other slides or negatives I have, I’ll go ahead right ahead and use them, because I know the image has already been preserved.

It was suggested to me, and others doing similar projects, that instead of using old, found slides, that we should shoot slide film ourselves and use those slides for a project. Which is great, and something I’ve already been working on (I shoot a lot of slide film). I totally encourage people to buy a few rolls of film, and if they don’t have a 35mm camera, just go down to a thrift store and pick one up. I see them for 50 cents to a dollar all of the time. Most of the ones you’ll find there don’t even need batteries! You can shoot some goofy pics and get it developed, and you’ll not only wind up with slides, but you may wind up with a new hobby, too. Of course, using your own film to make a project leads one to this thought, expressed so eloquently by my friend Carly: “But…if you took pictures yourself and made a curtain out of your own slides, wouldn’t you be destroying history, IN THE FUTURE?!?” If you need me, I’ll be stuck in a time loop on a mysterious island in 1977. :)

One of the points the angry guy was making in his argument that the slides should be kept in a box, in the dark, forever, was that you never know when old slides can “simply give inspiration in my daily work as a designer.” I’m assuming that when he says “my,” he actually means any one, or any designer, at least. Either way, it struck me as kind of funny – the curtains I made out of old, forgotten slides seem to have given a lot of people inspiration – inspiration to try making something like this when they may have thought it was too difficult, inspiration to find new uses for old objects, or just plain inspiration to think (and forgive me for using this phrase) “outside the [shoe]box” in terms of how they could decorate or enhance their space. That. Is. Awesome. I admittedly spend way too much time on the internet, in part because I am constantly inspired and amazed by what other people do. To be amongst those doing the inspiring is, frankly, amazing.

I apologize for the length of this post, but it’s something I believe passionately. Be creative. Be resourceful. Care about the past, and rethink things for the future. Don’t be a jerk. If you make a similar project as the curtains, check out what’s on your slides first. Maybe, as the guy who stole my photo said, “you might be the owner of an important clue that would solve a mystery” or “end a controversy.” In that case, I don’t know, alert the media? Contact a professor at a local college? Call the History Channel? Something along those lines. You can always share the images on Flickr, to the delight of internet sleuths. These are things I encourage. What’s funny is that the curtain post may have just sparked new interest in something that has been otherwise considered, well, archaic. I don’t know anyone who uses slide projectors anymore, although there are probably some people who still do. I do know people who will hook their camera or computer up to their TV and look at pictures that way. Now it looks like there might be a fleet of fresh eyes inspecting carousels of dusty slides found in a relative’s attic. Maybe something incredible will be discovered now just because there are more people looking.

Ultimately, though, the slides are in your hands, and their fate belongs to you. Choose wisely, young Skywalker! I’ll end this by posting some images from the slides used in my recent craft projects. As always, any information anyone could give me about what’s in the pictures is welcome and appreciated.

The slides were purchased by me in Kansas City, Missouri in October of last year. They were in a crate with an Ansco slide projector. A good amount of the slides had some mold damage on them. The slides that were date stamped ranged from 1961 to 1967, although there were many slides that looked as if they predated that (probably about half were not date stamped and looked older). They shot primarily Kodachrome, although there were a handful of Anscochrome slides mixed in.

They liked horses.

Disgruntled horsey ride

A lot.

Horse

They had a dog.

Man, puppy, barn

The dog is featured in many pictures, like this one of a fire…

Fire! Fire!

…and this one where they’re on vacation, in the Headwaters of the Mississippi State Park in Minnesota.

Mississippi Headwaters (with dog)

They also took a trip to the Badlands in South Dakota.

More Badlands

They had friends, or relatives that they hung out with called Laura and Frank. I think this is them.

Laura, Frank, and family?

One of the Anscochrome slides had writing on it that read, “To Laura + Dick, Xmas 1959, From Laura + Frank.” So, I’m assuming the lot of slides I have belonged to Laura and Dick.

To Laura + Dick

This is Laura or Dick’s mother. She apparently liked roses, and had a sweet spot for the dog, too.

Mother and dog

It’s easy to share these pics with you because they’re online, available for everyone to see. It would be hard to invite the internet over to my house to take turns looking through a box of slides. My carpet would get even dirtier than it already is, and it would freak out my dog. But, you would be able to see the curtains in person! :)

33 Comments »

33 Responses to “Behold! A kerfluffle!”

  1. sarahlou on 18 Feb 2010 at 6:51 am #

    jackie!! yesterday when i peeked at the weekly roundup i did a double take when i saw your username on those curtains! i thought – so cool! and meant to email you… this post, however? it makes the project so much more interesting, still. i read every word and it makes me want to add to the list of crafts/hobbies i have no time to do… i love your face (and appropos of nothing, i’m wearing my socks from your handspun, today! woo!)!

  2. Carlyfaye on 18 Feb 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Heck, even the National Archives digitally catalogues images and rarely saves film nowadays. They recognize that film breaks down, and is sometimes highly flammable (hello, nitrate film!). Digital preservation will be our best stopgap measure, until another form of preservation comes along, and then we’ll have to upgrade once again. It’s not like we’re dealing with paintings, where the media format is an inseperable part of the art.

    There have been some horrible crimes committed against historic property, the first thing that comes to mind was the destruction of the above-ground Penn Station in NYC. A beautiful, functional piece of architecture was bulldozed because the railroads needed more money. But who am I to judge, really? Maybe something equally as architecturally significant will grow in its place. The best we can do is reliably document history and move on. Most of Europe was built on layers and layers of ruins and history.

    Still, we tend to be bound to history by nostalgia, that glowing feeling in your chest when you see something old, and it makes you long for simpler, cleaner times, just like this guy does when he sees old diner cars. We cannot save everything…I struggle with this every day when I see beautiful Newark architecture decaying and covered over with posters that advertise “urban thug wear”, the unused potential of these buildings just breaks my heart. But do I have the money to buy a building, renovate it, and attract new businesses? No. I try to take photos, preserve them in the best format possible, and move on. If someone in the future wants to transfer them to a new format and use my old CDs to make a curtain, that’s fine by me. Media is not fixed and constant, it is always fluctuating and upgrading, and if we want to preserve the contents of that media, we need to let go of nostalgia and accept new and improved media formats.

    You’re not “destroying history”, but you’re preserving it. If you did what whats-his-name suggested and stored the slides, they would eventually decay, which would really be destroying history. Media is meant to be looked at, used up, and passed on – lets not forget that.

  3. Katie on 18 Feb 2010 at 7:05 am #

    We cannot, as a collective, save everything. We would become a population of hoarders and pack rats. Anything of worth would get lost amongst the clutter and chaos of viewing EVERYTHING as having historical merit. Plus where would we keep all this stuff, when everyday more stuff is being created? Perhaps in space, since a vacuum is the best place for preservation.

  4. Kris on 18 Feb 2010 at 9:52 am #

    I got here from your flickr page

    As someone who is trained and educated as an archivist, I can see both points of view on the argument that the other commenter was making. My guess is, that these images might have some importance for documenting every day life, but if they are kept in a box? in an attic? where no one sees them? Then thats only half of the job of preserving history. When you go to school to become an archivist you are trained not only in preservation, but in ACCESS. What is the use of preserving something if its going to be forgotten?

    So I say thank you for at least scanning them, and as you said, putting them up on the internet brings them to a wider audience. and preserving them to an extant.

    @Carlyfaye I doubt that the National Archives is throwing out film/not trying to preserve film. They are doing the same thing that yarnzombie has done (without the light damage). They are bring the images to a wider audience via the internet, but then they are making it so that the film negatives last longer at the same time, b/c they are not constantly being looked at (I use constantly loosely)

  5. Karen in Toledo on 18 Feb 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    We can’t keep everything. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. I love what you’ve done with the slides. AND I have that very same back door! Nicely said, and nicely done, Jackie.

    Kudos to you! :-)

  6. The HOODLUM on 18 Feb 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I think it’s a very bad crime to destroy those slides like that. Who do you think you are? you are like those greeks that remodel classic vintage diners.

  7. Thom Ring on 18 Feb 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    Actually, after reading all the posts here, it seems you’re the person who’s overreacting. And belligerent. Enjoy the slides, though. And feel free to dismiss the opinions of those who express concern. After all, as you point out, they’re your slides. What else matters?

  8. Jacki on 18 Feb 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    @ the Hoodlum & Thom – Thanks for writing! I appreciate your input. So, from what I can tell, you guys think the actual, physical element of a slide is just as important, if not more so, than the data stored on it, correct? I can see that, especially since some of the old paper slide mounts look neat. My question is, where do you draw the line? For example, I have information stored on old computer floppy discs. When it’s time for me to back that information up onto a cd or hard drive, what should I do with the old disc? Is it suitably old enough to be determined “vintage”? If not, when does that occur? Am I okay to pitch an old floppy disc in the trash, or should I be concerned that members of a future generation are going to want to collect those discs? Am I obligated to hang onto something like that just because someone might want it in the future?

    eta – And here’s some more food for thought – I shot a bunch of 35mm film in the 90s, and when I got it developed, I received both film negatives and a computer disc with copies of the images on it as well. Both film and disc contained the same information. Is one method of containing information ‘better’ than the other? Is one more worthy of saving? Should both film and disc be preserved, regardless of what the photos actually are of?

  9. Travis on 18 Feb 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    Oh God! Not the Greeks! I wouldn’t want to be like them!

  10. Jacki on 18 Feb 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Yeah, I’m not too sure about the comment about the Greeks. Let’s make this a safe place, for both Greek and non-Greek alike. :)

  11. Katie on 19 Feb 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Hey I’m greek and beware if I’m bearing gifts!

  12. ADB on 19 Feb 2010 at 5:39 am #

    There’s a weird tension in something that the Roadside guy said in his post. He indicated that it would be perfectly good for you to take and make slides of your own dog in your backyard and make curtains, but that using these found slides was somehow destroying history.

    In essence, these slides were, at some point, someone’s own slides of their backyard and dog. They failed to make a curtain out of them or otherwise leave them in the sun, and the slides survived to the present day.

    If you were to take pictures of Travis and Bela over by the hops, and left them in a box and they eventually made it to the antique store, would he try to save those slides? After all, those are the same slides he told you it would be perfectly okay to turn into a curtain.

    In his entire diatribe, he’s misguided on so many levels, but this is the one that I found most internally inconsistent. I can tolerate when people don’t understand copyright and fair use very well, but when people are actually speaking out of both sides of their mouth, that drives the blood into my brain and makes me think some evil thoughts.

  13. Jacki on 19 Feb 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Well, that’s what I don’t understand – is the issue consent, then? If by shooting slides myself and then making a crafty project out of them, I am consenting to the slides possibly being destroyed, but the people who took the above pictures didn’t consent to what I did with them. I mean, in this particular case, I think the most likely scenario is that these people took a bunch of slides, kept them for a while, died, and then no one wanted or was around to keep the collection, so it wound up being sold at an estate sale. I could be wrong, of course, but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that’s what happened.

    So, the Hypothetical Photographer never consented to what I did to these slides. But, by the same token, the HP never consented to the slides being bought and sold, possibly more than once, either. The HP also never consented to having the slides stored in less than ideal conditions – in this case, damp and dirty ones, because some of the slides did have mold damage on them. Is it okay, then, to have slides destroyed one way (through neglect), but not through another (being put on display and appreciated)?

    I was also thinking about the fact that I’ve found rolls of film and developed those. Do these same people who think I’m a criminal for making a curtain out of slides also think the same about me developing found film? Because in doing so, I’m also altering the original, historic item in my possession. I unfortunately have to damage film cartridges to remove the film inside, or tear vintage backing paper to release the film. Does the good (recovering these images) outweigh the bad (destroying the packaging)? Sometimes I try developing found film and I get no images from them whatsoever. So, I’ve destroyed something for what turns out to be no benefit at all. Am I at fault, then? Am I obligated to store and preserve lengths of blank film that nave no images? Should I collect and hoard found rolls of film and never develop them, only to have them pass along, degraded by however many more years of temperature extremes, humidity, etc, to someone else when I die? Because by then, whatever image that was on them would likely be destroyed and never shared with the world at all.

  14. Geeg on 22 Feb 2010 at 8:54 am #

    To Jacki: I couldn’t help myself; I just had to get in on this. there is absolutely no good reason why you should not be able to use slides, film, photos or whatever else you might find that SOMEONE ELSE HAS GOTTEN RID OF for whatever reason. As an artist, I see all kinds of great stuff that’s been created with found objects–including images. Better something ends up being appreciated and enjoyed than molding away in a box in the basement. And if someone recognizes an image and provides information, well, how cool is that? There will always be cranks who don’t like something for whatever reason, but you are obviously a very thoughtful person, as well as creative, and you defended yourself well. So don’t let them get you down! Just sign me–A Fan of Jacki

  15. Ray on 07 Mar 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    The fact that you archived the images and are freely sharing them, which requires your time and effort, FAR outweighs the destruction of the original source. Have fun creating and thank you for sharing the images. Frankly I don’t understand the problem that gentleman (we haven’t met so I’ll be generous) has with you.

  16. Repurposed Kodachrome « on 12 Mar 2010 at 7:19 am #

    […] Read yarnzombie’s very long history behind the curtain and the controversy on Craft! Bang! Boom!. […]

  17. Cortina hecha de “slides” de Kodak Kodacrhome on 12 Mar 2010 at 8:15 am #

    […] con 114 transparencias de Kodak. En este foro de manualidades encontrarán más fotos. Y en el blog del creador (traducido en Google), encontrarán la historia […]

  18. martin on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Oh, great sadness! Not only are the people in these photographs most likely deceased, so soon will be these slides, and then, because of discontinuation, Kodachrome itself. Make curtains while it rains, I say. It was nice of you to digitize these. They are beautiful.

  19. lola on 13 Mar 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Archive management (whether on a professional or amateur level) is complex. As you’ve just shown) involves a lot of patience, technical skill, knowledge, care and – most of all – respect for what you’re handling. I’d say you’ve definitely shown respect in this instance. And responded to your critics in just the same way i would like to when people ask really silly questions where i work. Explaining the ‘value’ of something (whether its abstract or concrete) to someone who doesn’t even understand the currency is useless.

    I’d ignore the naysayers, as i doubt they’re able to engage with the complexities of what you’re trying to discuss (plus, traffic that comes thru make/boing boing will have its share of the righteously ignorant). David Hockney has written/broadcasted a lot on optics, or what he calls ‘the tyranny of chemical photography’ – he discusses a lot of what you’ve highlighted here, might be worth a look.

    The curtains look lovely, the pictures you’ve shared charming and quite poetic (as well as the one of grandma and grandpa with two shiny horses’ asses, that was my favourite).

  20. Annette on 15 Mar 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Very cool curtains! And may I add my two cents to the controversy… my in-laws are geneologists and historians and so I understand the whole idea of preserving history. I myself am neither a geneologist nor a historian. However, I think there is more than one way to honor history. Documenting it is one. Preserving it (ie shoebox of slides). And my way of honoring history, which is to find a NEW use for something old and covered in dust or socked away some where. You can capture the “feeling” of history, and sometimes (OK, most times) I find that way more interesting than rooting through archives!

    I was lucky enough to become the owner of some pictures from the 1930s on up, owned by a man who was distantly related, but who’s immediate relatives would have thrown the pictures etc away, as they had no interest in them at all.

    My mother-in-law, the geneologist, went through the pictures, kept what she felt was relevant, and the rest was destined for the trash if I didn’t want them. My husband and I took a look and discovered many treasures. Some pictures I hung up around the house, because they were neat, some I used in craft collage projects (I used the originals, didn’t see the need to waste electricity and toner and paper to photocopy them) and then there were the non pictoral treasures. Like the man’s dog tags, which I kept, since he served his country and I felt that it counted for something.

    Now, sometimes they are my fashion statement for the day, but at least they are not lining the bottom of a landfill. And I mean no disrespect by wearing them either. It’s a way to honor a man I never knew, but who did something for me and my family long ago.

    So, preserve history in a way that means something to you. That’s my opinion. If you had left those slides in a shoebox to rot, no one would have cared. But now those slides (not the images) may go down in history, as being part of the most controversial curtains of 2010!

    And, lets think about the consequences if everyone saved EVERY physical, potentially historic item to be found…it’s Hoarders on a global scale!!!

  21. claire on 30 Mar 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Hey, your curtains are rad! And the post is fascinating.

    Historical value is relative. If no one ever views the slides and they sit in boxes for decades, they just become more likely to be tossed. The slides you purchase were already abandoned by the people who took them. Anyway, I agree with you. Also, you do a heck of a lot more to preserve them and make them available to the public than most people I imagine.

    It sounds like the guy who stole your photo to harass you further is only using his saved images for design inspiration anyway, which is not the same as researching the historical context of a photo.

    In any case, I applaud your preservation efforts and the new lives you’re giving to discarded film. Very cool.

  22. Kim on 01 Apr 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I don’t want to steal your photo, but I do want to steal your idea . . . do you have a tutorial on how to make slide curtains posted anywhere?

  23. Kim on 01 Apr 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Woops. Never mind . . . just linked over to Craftster and found it. Thanks for sharing such a creative idea!

  24. We Like Oddities. « We Like Words on 07 Apr 2010 at 11:37 am #

    […] a crafty sort-of a person, in the good way. Not in the daft and boring way. Just take one at these Kodachrome curtains. They are divine. Curtains made out of old Kodachrome […]

  25. aplazarin on 17 Apr 2010 at 7:45 am #

    Haha. Your response to his critique was epic! Nicely played! However, I’m sure he now feels as if you are the “jerk.” Oh snap! We have a role reversal on our hands! Everyone is a “jerk” once and awhile, but I think the important part is whether or not you are being completely ignorant in doing so, which it appears he was being ignorant and you weren’t. The best feeling, when sticking it to someone, is when you use your intellect and reason to do so. You are very creative! I have been looking for a curtain-like thing to put over my window and you have given me inspiration. Thank you! Once again, very nicely played!

  26. Steveo on 23 Apr 2010 at 9:34 am #

    I started making things (trying to) out of my slide heap and kind of thought the same thing. But, the reality is, that these slides were forgotten in the first place, and that their truest meaning outside of nostalgia or wonder can only be activated by the owner, so they are kind of powerless to begin with in that regard. And, unless you are projecting them, the information on them isn’t accessible at all. So to me, this is just fine. You make the information accessible by translating it into a readable format for our timez (computer) and then activating what makes slides unique, the projection aspect. “Historic” books are digitized all the time, but that digitization involves sawing the spine off so a batch scanner can quickly scan it, so really its no longer the object, just the information. That’s a current practice for archival methods of books, so hey, you’re doing the same thing : )

  27. mike on 29 Jun 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    Amazing stuff, great read.

    I found this after googling “scanning grandpa’s kodachromes” and going a few pages deep.

    I am currently halfway through my grandpa’s slides (800 in total). It is amazing to see how much has changed and how much really hasn’t.

    Here’s to enjoying the past!

  28. Refunk on 16 Jul 2010 at 2:10 am #

    Wonderful curtains! If the sun were to hit them just right, would the images project on interior walls? Maybe if ya hung a toy telescope at the right spot from any overhang projecting over the door, it might focus enough light to fire up one or a few slides at a time as the sun moved past? (all presuming there was a suitable surface inside the house to resolve an image upon)

    Really quite a tolerant & reasoned response to the naysayer.

    Let me tell you how close I feel to your position of argument, defending your lovely curtain against non-curtain makers:

    For many years, I fabbed lamps and other devices from old, mostly electric kitcheneria – percolators, toasters, teapots, espresso machines, what-have-ya. These were not the more common efforts found at swap-meets, etc., where someone just sticks a socket, a coupla ferrules and a lampshade on top where the knob used to be on a 1976 Presto coffee pot. It was a cardinal point for me to design – say, a lamp from a percolator – without altering the original appearance of the thing, such that sitting on an end-table or shelf, it looked just …like the original item. Until it was switched on.

    IR motion sensors were hidden behind the glass jewel “ready” light lens, or capacitance switches incorporated for touch activation, or even light sensors for automatic function. The light would issue from an aperture cut in the “rear,” bouncing off an adjacent wall or whatever (opposite side from that normally displayed – which would be the side with the original coffee color controls and so on). If present, a glass bubbler in the lid would communicate some of the light from the carafe interior upward in addition to the light emitted from the design cut out on the back side of the carafe wall. My standard in achievement was to watch the unaware viewer be startled and laugh when what appeared to be an unmodified pot was turned on and lit up an area, transforming from coffee maker to lamp.

    I especially favored older kitcheneria – Art Deco, the “Fabulous Fifties,” some of the last American-made stuff from the ‘sixties, usually chrome or stainless steel & bakelite. The visual design, materials and craftsmanship was often wonderful and is certainly no longer matched by manufacturers. I found most of my stuff at yard sales or last-sale bins at thrift stores (last stop before metal recycling) and often harvested circuitry for the electronics from the same sources.

    SO, I wrote all that to preface THIS:

    Once, when visiting some in-laws at holiday time, I presented them with a very elegant Universal (Landers, Frary & Clark) percolator lamp. From circa 1917, it had faceted carafe walls, beautiful bright nickel plate, a large glass bubbler atop, swooping black-enameled wooden handle and little wooden feet. There was an inverted triangular aperture cut in the back and a touch module installed and it was one of my favorite pieces (out of hundreds). The cord was a modern reproduction cloth-wrapped one, in a handsome colored knit pattern (I bought a lot of NOS from closing repair shops).

    When the gift was opened, the in-laws sort of stared blankly at each other (not having examined the “back” side, where the light source could be seen through the opening back there), then,

    “How nice, an old coffee pot.”

    I reached over, plugged it in, and suggested tapping the pot a few times. It lit, sparkling and toggling through different light levels from a warm amber glow to a bright white with each tap. They looked confused for a moment, then one said,

    “Wouldn’t that be worth more as an antique?”

    As far as I know, they never used it.

    I made the stuff because it was fun. It was incidental that I was also preserving vanishing crafts and certain epochs of style while repurposing stuff which was on the very real verge of being crushed or headed for the landfill.

    Only ever ran into folks like my charming relatives a half-dozen times or so (unlike some bigger-hearted people, I never entertained comments on a website showing the work). Of course, everyone is certainly entitled to their own perceptions and preferences.

    But they didn’t get it. Neither do yer detractors.

    Nice work. Carry on, do more.

  29. Odds and Ends | Truth and Justice For All on 26 Jul 2010 at 7:03 am #

    […] Do you have boxes of Kodachrome slides you no longer have a use for? Or some you’ve inherited from a relative? Make them into decorating accessories, like this gal: […]

  30. فن إحياء السعادة من جديد !!- المصور حسين الدغريري | الهوس الضوئي | hosain photo on 06 Sep 2010 at 4:50 am #

    […] yarn بإنشاء متجر لها لبيع الكاميرات القديمة .. ولأنها ربة […]

  31. Victor on 31 Dec 2010 at 11:18 am #

    I’d like to quickly weigh in on this subject. Yesterday I was lucky enough to find 3 reels full of kodachrome slides dating from 1969-1972 amidst a mess of empty projector reels and boxes. I got them for $1.50 Canadian and plan on making a curtain very similar to the original since I’ve really liked the idea since I first saw it. In regards to preserving the images I plan to do nothing, if anything I will take some delight in knowing that someone is freaking out knowing that all these images are slowly being destroyed by the sun. If the family that donated these slides to the thrift store valued them even a little they would have kept them (whether or not they archived their own images is totally up to them) but why would I want to clutter my hard drive or any tiny corner of the internet with boring family photos? All I can say is no, there’s no point in archiving photos that mean nothing to those they should matter the most to.

  32. Gail on 01 Jan 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    To Refunk: Your gift story reminded me of the year I made all of the ladies in my ex-husband’s family (ages 60+, mostly–mother-in-law, grandma, aunties, etc.) beautiful origami boxes as Christmas gifts. I used handmade paper and folded the boxes,each one different. They all got that same blank look on their faces when they got their boxes; one even said, “Did you forget to put the present in here?” They probably threw the boxes away with the Christmas trash, but then, I knew the risks going in! And like you, I had fun making them!

  33. Gloria Moore on 29 May 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    I have over 8000 slides – 80+ carousels with almost 100 slides each. I had been trying to figure out a craft to do with them much like your curtain. I think it’s great and I think that JERK is out of his mind. He has no idea how many slides are out there and you have done a great service by making these searchable and on the internet. (I checked spelling, unsearchable is a word, evidently searchable is not.) These relics are not just history but they are art. Thanks so much for posting these ideas.

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