Kodachrome curtains

So I’m conflicted.

I stumbled onto this a while back.  And I have to say, I love the look of these curtains.

Kodachrome curtains

Kodachrome curtains by yarnzombie

But the archivist in me weeps for the fact by using the slides in this awesome way, they are going to be destroyed by the sun.  They’ll last a while, but direct sunlight is brutal on slide film (on any film really!).  First they’ll start to color shift towards yellow/orange and then they’ll just fade away.

Kodachrome curtain detail 1

Kodachrome curtain detail 1 by yarnzombie

I guess the question is which part of something like this is more valuable – the temporary enjoyment of the art or the long term preservation of a part of photographic history.  They don’t make Kodachrome film any more. Does that make these old slides more valuable?  From a scarcity standpoint, yes.  In the same way that after daguerreotypes went out of fashion, they became cool art objects to collect.  It didn’t matter who was in the picture, just that it was a daguerreotype was enough to make it desirable.

And what about the pictures themselves? This is someone’s family history. Then again, these slides were found in an antique shop and there is little chance there was anything that would have identified the the photographer with them.  Sure, many of the photos have people in them, but do you know how many people there are?  At last count, billions.  And more than 300 million in the US alone.  Even if you could figure out where these photos were taken and of who, most were taken in the 50s and 60s.  If that young woman on the horse was 20 in that photo and it was taken in 1960, she’d be 70 now.  The older person in the slide next to her is most likely dead. Do they care about the images? If they did, I doubt they would have ended up in an antique shop.  Are old slides going to be the carte de visite of this generation? Walk into any antique store worth its salt and you can find a box or two or ten of old carte de visite portrait cards from the turn of the last century. Most don’t have names on them and are often referred to as “instant ancestors.” Because really, if you framed a photo at random and put it on your wall, who would know that isn’t your Great Uncle Roy? Will we find piles and piles of instant ancestors in slide form now?

So.  I am conflicted.  It looks so cool, but…

What do you think, dear reader?  Does the awesome factor out weigh the destruction of history factor?  Or is that such an non-issue that no one but me even cares?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. You can read an in-depth post about the archival aspect of the Kodachrome curtains here. It’s too long for me to repeat in the comments. 🙂

    http://yarnzombie.net/craft/?p=194

    Also, in case you were wondering, the slides have been hanging on my door for about 6 months now, and they still look great. The color shift has started to happen – they’re maybe a tiny bit more blue than they were when I hung them up, but the images are still clear and there are still plenty of bright reds that pop out at you. I’m hoping to get about 1-2 years out of them before they fade entirely.

    Reply

    • Wow, Jacki, thank you so much for responding to this personally! I hadn’t seen your post about the ensuing kerfuffle and I’m really glad you shared it. You clearly put a huge amount of thought and energy into this project. I’m delighted that you scanned the slides first. I think if I’d known that up front, I would have felt less conflicted about the work. Because those curtains do look really really cool. Also, I applaud you for dealing so rationally with name-calling crazies. The internet does seem to abound with them.

      Reply

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