Fake Film Edges - Why They Bother Me
Without getting way too philosophical on photographic lies and truth as this discussion is best had with really close friends while drinking - I want to offer up some thoughts on fake film borders or rebate. When I see these on a photograph that is clearly digital - the wrong aspect ration for the film - and edge lettering that is clearly done in photoshop it is an instant turn off for me. It’s probably even worse when it is “well done”.
I guess it is a turn off and bothers me because of it’s total lack of meaning in the digital world. It’s trying to do something - there is some sort of motivation to do this. I just don’t understand what that is. When photographers started this with real film it was not artifice - it was artistic statement. In the digital world it is hopeless artifice at best and a crude and deliberate un-truth at worst.
I love contact sheets and contact prints as art objects in and of themselves - they do have a meaning and looking over my own contact sheets from the dusty past is always a revelation. Especially in the context of final prints that I choose to make from that contact sheet. What I enjoy even more is looking at other photographers contact sheets - it is even more of a revelation and informs me more about an individuals art in some cases than the final work produced. I have wrestled with and attempted to reproduce this effect in the past for a more general audience but failed and that was with real film and real film edges and actual frame numbers - all of them. I have some ideas why the effect was different than an actual contact sheet - maybe I will try again someday.
In the digital world trying to produce this effect is, in my opinion crass. I am not saying that it is not worthwhile - I would love to collaborated with someone that knows what I am talking about to find a better way. What I am saying is that trying to produce the effect of containment by using artifacts that are not native to the process are absolute lies and the very concept of using those alien artifacts is wrong headed in the first place.
What is very curious is I have never stumbled upon anyone using these fake film edges that was also offering a camera produced RAW file as a final output. Wouldn’t this be the intent of such decoration - to offer the same implications of film rebate? Then why not make the RAW file available? Isn’t that the closest digital equivalent?
If I am totally out in left field on this I invite anyone to explain fake film edges to me from a journalistic standpoint - an artistic standpoint - and from a standpoint of integrity of the artist and the medium.
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