Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Time and Colour

On Saturday at The Dabbler (no I’m really not turning TofE into a series of plugs for The Dabbler, but blogs are formed from one’s current preoccupations, and The Dabbler happens to be the thing about which I currently preoccupied am) I posted some autochrome colour pics from the very early 1900s.

Malty’s reaction is I’m sure the same of most – “they were more or less us” . The application of colour does have a remarkable effect of bringing the past closer and making strangeness more familiar - or perhaps, black and white has a dramatic distancing effect.

This makes me wonder whether, for Brit Jnr, the 1970s and 1980s will be much ‘closer’ for her than, say, the 1930s or 1940s are for me, simply because she’ll be able to see Michael Jackson videos and whatnot. And the 1920s will be just as distant to her as they are to me. As indeed, the 16th Century, visually accessible through weird portraits, is the same to all of us. Everything before our own living memory happened in a world that we have to take on faith, and colour is much more important than time in determining the degree to which we believe in it.

2 comments:

Gaw said...

There have been some strong cultural continuities between the '70s and now - pop music, TV, sporting, fashion - whereas the period between the '30s and the '70s is more notable for its disruptions. This will underline the effect I'm sure you're right in drawing attention to.

BTW I was frankly surprised to see some real, actual Dutch people dressing like Dutch people are supposed to be traditionally dressed.

David said...

“They were more or less us” is a paraphrase of one of the central tenets of conservatism: human nature has no history.