Suggestions

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In the Namib desert, about as barren as it gets. You’ve been driving hundreds of kilometers; it all looks the same. Then in the distance, a clump of something greenish - the biggest welwitschia mirabilis in the world. Say what? Welwitschia. It’s strange as can be - only two huge leathery leaves that split and get strippy as they age. The roots can reach down hundreds of feet below the surface. They’re old - scientists figure that they can exceed 1,000 years of age, and that this particular specimen is closer to 2,000. That’s why it gets its own fence.

And a Suggestions box. What suggestion would you make? And what's with the Dadaist clock pieces?

Yesterday I unearthed a trove of film scans that I didn’t even remember I had – many of my b/w negatives from my earliest days with a camera, and also a lot of pictures from India in the mid-1980s. In the next week or two I’ll be happily working them up in Aperture, and I’ll probably post a few new galleries. And, undoubtedly, doing some ruminating here. 

One of the things that’s interesting, coming on these images twenty+ years later, is how their immediacy at the time – they were my evidence of where I’d just been, my report back from remote realms – feels now like part of an even more ancient history than it should. The very idea of ‘reporting back’ is almost quaint. For example: when I was traveling in India, there were two ways of communicating with home. One was via the post restante, ie having my parents send letters to me care of the local post office – I figured out quickly that it was better to be Jon-Marc Xeimon because there were fewer letters to sort through in the X box! The other was to book a trunk call from the telegraph office. There you had to sit waiting for seven hours for your call to go through, at which point an operator in the room would yell out your name and tell you to go sit in a plywood booth for your wildly expensive 2 minutes with mummy and daddy.

Fast forward to ten days ago. Sitting at the computer, I video iChatted with cousin Adam (okay, just a few miles away), added my sister Tamsyn (in Geneva) and then her husband, Garrett (who was in New Delhi). Four of us, sharing a screen, chatting away. Okay, so Garrett’s nose insisted on morphing into his ear (there was some pixelation from New Delhi), but still...