mad in pursuit journal


Mystery Cabinet

studio cabinetDoesn't every studio have a mystery cabinet? This old sheet music cabinet has stood inside the entrance of my studio since before I moved in with Jim. I knew it contained "photographs" but never really paid attention. Just one more stuffed corner.*

So this is how the "Shiva"** cycle begins. Last week I peaked into the cabinet and found stacks of tintypes in ruinous plastic sleeves. I handed them to Jim to get them into less destructive paper envelopes. I blocked out the rest of what I saw till Saturday when I was psychologically prepared for another tidal wave of demanding treasures.

photo flashbulb 1930sReally, who finds 1930s flashbulbs in their studio cabinet? They are bigger than today's light bulbs and filled with aluminum foil. An innovation over smoky old flash powder. But... 5 of them? They made a brief stopover at my table-top photo studio across the room, then (after a little web research) got listed immediately on ebay. (Already got a bid for $19.95!) We may collect lots of things but flash bulbs isn't going to be one of them.

But then everything got spilled out. Here is a week of work, waiting to be sorted through: unsorted photos, antique exposure meters. paperweights with photos in them, books, glass negatives... I can never be sure whether I've opened Aladdin's cave or Pandora's box.

studio desk



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* Another case full of photos above it, with various knick-knacks on top of that. Empty binders below, waiting for recycling. My CD collection to the left of it.

** From Hinduism: Shiva is the destroyer of the world, following Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver, after which Brahma again creates the world and so on. Shiva is responsible for change both in the form of death and destruction and in the positive sense of the shedding of old habits. [link] Shiva is usually represented with several arms.