Thought for the Day - Brian Draper

I don’t know about you, but I when I heard yesterday that Kodak was filing for bankruptcy, I felt a sharp pang of nostalgia. The old Brownie cameras, the Instamatics, the smell of developer... it all came back in a flash.

I remember my excitement, as a child, at trying to load a new film, snapping the camera shut, and winding it on to the first frame.

I remember taking a picture and thinking, how will it come out? And then having to wait. Remember waiting for your pictures?

And then, when they came back from the chemist, opening the prints and holding them at the edges and savouring each one, whether brilliant or blurry, before sticking them into an album... Such a tactile process.

Little did we know, as we performed this ritual, that these would be the pictures that would frame our mental image of childhood - our recollection of growing up, of first days at school, or times together on holiday. It’s little wonder many of us say we’d save our photo albums first, if the house were on fire.

Many of the big 20th century moments, as well as our own smaller ones, live on, too, in the psyche, through Kodak film. Some are ‘still’ photos - great moments frozen in their naked beauty or horror, which changed for good the way we see the world. Think of Nick Ut’s image of terrified children running from a napalm attack in Vietnam.

And then, many of the most moving cinematic images - like the Queen’s coronation and the moon landing - had that kind of nostalgic visual quality to make you think, as Paul Simon sang, that “all the world’s a sunny day.”

But while a shutter stops time still, still it moves on, and despite inventing the digital camera, it seems Kodak couldn’t detach itself enough from its successful past in film to move on. And that’s a lesson for us all.

‘Forget the former things,’ announced the prophet Isaiah. ‘Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing...’ I’m not sure he was talking about social networking websites when he recorded those words of God, but the principle stands, nevertheless.

That this is our time, strange though it may be.

In the last two and a half minutes, over a hundred hours’ worth of digital video has been uploaded to YouTube alone - which is nearly 8 years’ worth every day. We are swamped with images now; we skim the surface of culture, we live through the lens of a phone, and we have yet to see clearly how this helps us to look at life afresh.

But if you don’t like the sound of ‘new things’; if you only yearn for the pictures of the past; then it’s worth remembering: in the future, you may yet yearn for this time, too.

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