A solid rod of yellow plastic


‘You know that yellow rod Bendix showed us?’ said Friday, staring out of the window.
“It was a half-second of snooker ball”
First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde

Today, I carried home about 200 slide photographs of paintings by Uccello, Degas and Tintoretto, which had been thrown out by one of the curators at the National Gallery, and which I intend to repurpose in the name of Art. The weight was considerable so that by the time I got home, I had given up trying to carry the bag on my shoulder and instead was carrying it with the strap wrapped twice around my hand like a shopping bag. Many of them are duplicates and just about everything about them, the weight, the tiny handwritten labels and the perforated plastic slide wallets that hold the individual slides reminds me of how much I hated taking slide film of my work when I first left art college.

It would go something like this:

1. In the near dark, load a roll of slide film into the camera
2. Arrange artwork on the cleanest and brightest wall in the studio
3. Place camera on a tripod or pile of books on a table
4. Lean over, half close your eyes, and look through the viewfinder
5. Nudge the camera first to the left and then to the right
6. Hope rather than know that the artwork is central and perpendicular to the frame
7. Take a deep breath
8. Take a photograph of the artwork
9. Take another photograph of the artwork for good measure
10. Hang new work and repeat.

But despite my best (half hearted, corner cutting) efforts, when I came back from Metro or Snappy Snaps with my little plastic red box with the plastic white top, to paraphrase the Woody Allen joke, the photographs were lousy and there wasn’t enough of them. The paintings would always be slightly wonky and out of focus, and there was always a bit too much background showing which was suprisingly messy. However, having spent (wasted) the best part of a week getting them done, I would dutifully write my name, the title of the work and the date on the plastic casing and send it out with a stamped addressed envelope for whatever job, commission or open that I was hoping that I might get that week. And then I would wait, because until I got the idiotic things back, I couldn’t apply for anything else.

So to be fair technology had me at jpeg long before it came round to this.

True, we could all ask questions about the walnut veneer or the remarkable resemblance to an apple computer but I’ve been itching to get my hands on a 3-D printer for well over a year now and when I do, taking a photograph of a moving snooker ball with an exposure of half a second, and printing it out, is going to be one of the first things I do.