“I was just smoking my usual mid-morning cigarette outside the door of the ARC Building — a full 25 feet away from the doors, mind you — when I looked down and saw it,” explained second year Pratt Photography student Inster Graham. “I mean, I had no idea what it was, but I knew it was something weird.”
What Graham had found was nothing short of miraculous, a piece of photographic history from a bygone era.
“None of our students could figure out what it was,” explained labs manager and assistant professor Andy Todd, “I actually had to Google it to make sure that we had identified it correctly.”
Above the hum of digital printers rendering away in the basement of Pratt Institute’s ARC building, a tangible murmur of excitement could be heard among Photo faculty and students alike. Had this artifact somehow been stuck in some wall crevice, only to be ironically revealed by recent maintenance work intended to bring the ARC facilities into the 21st Century? Could it have been stuffed into the ceiling, only to be finally dislodged by the fateful bounce of a basketball on the gym floor overhead? However it came to reveal itself, somehow a small piece of photographic film negative had found its way out of the past and onto the ARC sidewalk.
“I knew what it was immediately,” asserted Assistant Chair Tori Purcell, “I mean people still use this stuff in Cuba, so I am as familiar with this ancient technology as I am with a 1950’s Chevrolet.”
Students were fascinated by the rare artifact, which created a real opportunity for education in photographic history.
“To think that these earlier photographers had no idea what they were doing,” pondered Sophomore Iprafur Tumbla, “and they had to wait for days or even weeks to see their images… it just baffles the mind.”
“I heard that you could take 24, maybe 36 images max, with this ‘film'” explained Senior Snabjat Yoosa, “I mean, it takes me maybe 40 shots just to feel like I am getting warmed up.”
The small fragment of film will be on display in the Photography Main Gallery starting today, April 1st, until the end of the semester. Although there is no firm plan as to where the artifact will be permanently placed, rumors have it that both the Cooper Hewitt and the Museum of Arts and Design have offered to house the film in their permanent collections.
“We are extremely proud to have found this piece of photographic history on our humble campus,” emoted Photography Chair Stephen Hilger, “it really shows how deep the history of the Pratt Photography Department is.”A Minor Post, Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Photography, Pratt Institute