Hours in the Attic
In 1853, Anna Atkins placed a fern on top of her cyanotype paper. Now 163 years later the outline of every indent and curve lives on. While the fern probably shriveled and died in 1853, its trace is left for us today.
The photograph freezes things. It’s a medium unlike any other that lets us glimpse back into the past and see a world that no longer exists. The grooves on a negative show that once upon a time this person, bird, or tree actually existed. When the light touches the emulsion, its mark is ingrained forever.
These marks could be the only way we prove the existence of the past. It makes me think a lot about the way I remember my grandma. I probably wouldn’t know much about her if it wasn’t for the images of her, the traces of gold jewelry, and angel figurines she left behind. These are the only pieces left and are the platform on which I remember her.
What traces will I leave?
I started journaling freshman year in college with this question in mind. I imagine that these journals will outlive me. When I’m gone, my grandchildren will spend hours in the attic re-reading the handwritten pages. The traces we leave behind are the only proof we were ever here in the first place. When every mark we’ve made fades, so do we.