(this is from 2019… the word was Camera and I had 25′ to write something… this was the result)
In a world of digital photography she had to turn back to analog picture making. Why do I always do this to myself, she wondered, but Afnan knew that she loved the process she had developed. The word camera comes from the latin word for room and one day she decided to give visual meaning to the life of rooms. When ideas such as that one occurred to her, the rest of the world stood still, at least for a while. Afnan’s boyfriend complained bitterly of being ignored, while she researched how to make her own light sensitive paper. She explained her idea to him like this:
Our eyes only see the present moment. We might be able to see traces of the past, for example in the footsteps that remain for a time in mud, but eyes see the now and it’s the brain that fills in the history. Long exposures, especially at night, can show more than a moment. Take cars driving in the dark with their lights on: the lights become lines and show the history, the lines represent time expired. What I want to show is the traces people leave in a room, over time. For that I need to build a box, a camera, that lets only a small amount of light through to the light sensitive paper, so I can make exposures of hours or days, or weeks or even years. If a woman in a red dress walks around the room several times, will that show on the photograph or will it get swallowed by the image of the room.
He understood her idea and even offered to help her build the camera, using his expertise as woodworker, but mainly he just wanted more attention from her. On one hand he was proud of her for getting so deeply into her ideas, for pursuing them so doggedly. On the other hand it took up so much of her time.
I could try to talk to a boutique hotel, she mused, and see whether they would let me install my camera into a room. But wouldn’t that mean spying on people, he asked. Afnan shook her head vigorously, I really don’t think so. I don’t think anything would appear very material… perhaps if a loon decided to sit in one position for a long time… like for several days at least, then he might appear in the photograph as a shadowy outline. He laughed, that could actually be an art piece within an art piece. Performance art inside a photograph. Maybe I should do that, then you might pay more attention to me. I love the idea, said Afna, and put her hand on his arm.