Thursday, November 08, 2012

What thoughts might come

Jean and Charlotte Potter, posted on Flickr courtesy of
the Bain News Service and the Library of Congress 
I follow the Library of Congress photostream on Flickr, who has undertaken the enormous and likely unending task of digitizing its massive catalog of photos from the 19th and 20th centuries.  I find the collection fascinating from the perspective that the depictions can be just as real and lively as a modern-day image.  But the greatest difference today is the lack of context and metadata that surrounds the image, relative to the thoughts and comments left by people like you and me.

Take Jean and Charlotte Potter.  These women (likely sisters?) are depicted in repose at the beach.  Charlotte (I think is on the right?) is cradling a dog; she shares the same outfit with her sister, from hat to checkered blazer to white trousers.

What alludes me is their story.  I can only imagine the precociousness of the dog and its cradling owner, but I  am only speculating from the thin smile she holds that pauses the camera lens.  Perhaps her sister is bashful, lowering her head, but she might also have been shamed or outwitted by her younger sister, causing a momentary downward glance.  There are only archival tags associated with this image - no comments from the subjects themselves of their family and friends - although it's possible that Jean and/or Charlotte are still alive to provide comment (although this photograph dates over 100 years ago).  These are all interpretations and reflections that remain mysterious to the moment at hand, captured so long ago.

The mystery can be enchanting and enthralling.  And some day, the mountain of photos that I have taken might be interpreted in a similar way by someone just as removed as I am from this photo.  Perhaps the record of these words will live on only to the point where the server that Google runs decides to quit or corrupt the data, at which point these words vanish, too.  What thoughts might come from the wisps of this notion, that stirs the soul to leave more permanent relics (and perhaps back up this precious data!).
Post a Comment