In this Magpie Tale, we ask you to say cheese.
Rivers of darkness and canyons of light. The alternate universe of the negative where the black rays of the sun shine above a burned field that is a sea of endless white and ivory hues.
Our eternally youthful ancestors live on in miles of emulsion, etched with silver, their pale faces hold back the light with masks of ebony.
Mrs. O never lived to hold an iPad that might have captured a grandchild’s smile without the waiting for development, the stench of fixer and stopper in their flat trays.
Thomas Eakins’ scandalous glass negatives of nude female models wearing black masks to hide their identity were hid for three quarters of a century until a late discovery saved them from the flames.
Diane Arbus’ abandonment of Fifth Avenue society was like living in the opposite world of the negative, the socialite drawn to the social pariahs.
Each image snatched from the present gains its perspective with age and time. The return to a lost world where all that is negative is a joy.
(Junk Thief, December 1977)