Turn. Turn. Turn. Turn. Put down with a little jolt. Wait.
My hands leave the developing tank and my mind is wandering. I have the time in focus, no question, but I’m starting to think about what I’m doing. I’m starting to see a parallel between developing a film and something else.
Place the record down. Start the platter. Gently run the carbon fibre brush over the record. Lean it forward, lean it back, draw it outwards. Set the needle down. Adjust the volume. Adjust headphones. Adjust the volume again.
Listening to a vinyl record is undoubtedly an act full of ritual. As the old joke goes, vinyl is desirable both for its high cost and inconvenience. That ‘inconvenience’ brings a set of actions that become inseparable from the listening experience. The ritual is inseparable from the listening experience.
I wonder if film is similarly ‘inconvenient’. In the sense that, it demands a series of preparatory actions (in my example, development) that become an integral part of how we experience it. It is frequently said that film photographs feel ‘made’ (and I haven’t mentioned darkroom yet). Preparatory actions become ritualistic. Little rituals we enact that prolong and intensify our experience of a medium. Little rituals we do with our own little touches and personal ways.
Does digital photography involve rituals? Probably, and to some extent. Yet I notice the rituals of my use of film much more readily. Is it an accident that in my parallel vinyl is an analogue medium? It’s hard to see the same pertaining to playing an MP3.
Do analogue lovers have an affinity for ritual? My guess is they do.