Making an SX-70 Cry on Flickr.
What happens when you try to shoot Impossible Cyanograph film with an SX-70 that’s been in a backpack at sub-freezing temperatures for several hours? Well, in my case, this…
I tossed the SX-70 into my backpack before heading out to explore Manhattan this past weekend. It was about 20 degrees outside. That didn’t matter, the excitement of exploration warms better than any fire.
Riding the Roosevelt Island Tram I pulled out SX to snap a couple of images (I even prepped myself for the shock of shoving damn cold developing images into the balmy warmth of my armpit). I pressed the button for the first image, a shot of the Manhattan skyline in full daylight, and then waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, since nothing happened after 30 seconds, I assumed I had a bad film battery. As I relaxed and moved a frame rolled out of the camera (image on the left). I shrugged my shoulders and tried another, this time the inside of the tram. I waited again (but not as patiently). Again, after nearly 30 seconds, the camera spat out an image.
I cursed under my breath, “damn stupid camera.”
The camera spoke.
I was shocked since I’d never heard my SX (or any camera, for that matter) speak. Its voice was high-pitched and androgynous. There was a soft, lilting quality. I quite liked it.
“Why?” it asked.
“Why, what?” I responded. I noticed the other tram riders shift away from me slightly.
“Why have you brought me to this frozen hell? Why do you expect me to work under these brutal conditions? Why do you hate me?”
“This isn’t hell, silly. This is New York City. It’s winter.” More shifting by the other passengers, I felt the tram tilt slightly as nearly everyone moved to the opposite end from me.
“My point,” SX replied. Its voice rose an octave. “My point exactly! I’m supposed to be on a beach in Miami photographing models, or in the back alleys of a Mediterranean village chasing shadows, or in L.A. creating edgy headshots, or … you get the point.”
The voice quivered. “New York in spring. New York in fall. New York when it’s not hot or cold and only if it’s not raining! Get it, pinhole jerk. I’m not one of your dumb boxes. I’m too smart to deal with this crap.”
There was a pause and then it sobbed out, “I’M BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT, TREAT ME THAT WAY!!!”
My tears of responsive remorse froze on my cheeks.
“I didn’t realize. Oh, I’ve mistreated you. You don’t deserve me. You deserve better,” I cried.
Removing my scarf, I tenderly wrapped up SX—it’s shudders visible through the material—and placed it back into my bag.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “I love you. Please forgive me.”
The tram stopped as I closed the zipper and I watched as the other riders rushed out the open doors.