Stumbling around on tumblr today, I came across an uncredited image that reminded me of something I had seen before…
If anyone recognizes that photo and can tell me when and where it was published, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have a copy of the publication and could supply me with a better scan, well, that’d be just peachy.
UPDATE (22 June 2015):
Thanks to the inspired efforts of an anonymous reader (see the comments section below), we now have the precise context for Jones’s “reference photo” posted above. The source is a photo layout titled “Secrets From My Diary,” shot by J. Frederick Smith, for the December 1973 issue of VIVA (vol. 1, no. 3). And thanks to the efforts of fans on the VFILES site, we can view the photo in the context of the original NSFW article/layout:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
The scans are small, yes, even if you click to enlarge them, but the information is much appreciated. Thanks, hsc!
“It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities.” — Prince Sorie Conteh, Traditionalists, Muslims, and Christians in Africa: Interreligious Encounters and Dialogue (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2009), retrieved 30 October 2013
What intrigues me about the above photographs is how the phrase “Scene of Death” in the “title” of each one opens a valve of imagination in the viewer that the still image — last photo excepted — would probably not so easily twist open sans text… or maybe it’s just me…
The online records all include the same one line description — “Film in stolen camera, location unknown” — and the same date, 20 October 1955 — 58 years ago today!
Where were the photographs taken? A racetrack? A racetrack for what? Horses? Dogs? Is the person who stole the camera visible in any of the photographs? Are any of those people still alive? Does the ghostly apparition in short pants in the second photograph have grandkids who are excited to squirm into their costumes and haunt the surrounding neighbourhoods at Halloween this year? What was the attraction of the white stone statue — a monk? a saint? — in the niche on the side of that building? What is that building, anyway? A church? The entrance to the track? What is beyond that picket fence?
Why are blurry old black-and-white snapshots of the inscrutable activities of strangers so intriguing, so disturbing, so haunting?
Think they’re boring… scroll back slowly and think again… the tightly composed shot of the middle-aged men in hats, heads down, uncommunicative, one with his nose in a newspaper, the others either writing on or consulting folded pieces of paper — or are those racing forms? — a solemn assembly of punters, perhaps, each out for himself, preserved for posterity on a close-cropped stretch of lawn, with a picket fence marking the limits of their freedom, preventing them from wandering into the void beyond, I say, that snapshot, especially, conveys a Hopperesque feeling of human existential aloneness in a crowd that deepens the mystery of everyday life despite the fact that the effect is, almost certainly, entirely unintentional…
Today is the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. I went for a walk along Wascana Creek with my wife after breakfast and took three snapshots with my ancient Canon PowerShot A560 camera before the battery died. The images are ho-hum, but — whatever! — here’s what autumn looks like, right now, where I live: