A bare back partitions the Polaroid’s frame. What is beyond cannot be seen. The frame is lit with a bed side lamp. It is a woman’s back. A curious light red cast warms her shoulders. Her body is arched and she looks to be comfortable. Her back holds the trace of a bra strap. It has left a heavy indent, a trace of a days length. She is alone.
A heavy, close flash, lights a blue coloured ceiling. The weight of uneven brush strokes can be traced and mapped. They are shadowed and circled by a black, formed by the limits of the reach of the Polaroid’s flash. It is a cloudy black whose presence touches and then resides against the ceilings deep blue.
Gold-stencilled stars are dotted throughout the ceiling. Only one is truly caught in the glare of the camera’s flash. The star is worn and scratched, its gold pigment beginning to fade and crumble.
Just above this star, towards the top right of the frame, a hole has been forced through the ceiling’s plaster. It is chalk white, small and rough. A split telephone wire has been slipped through and it hangs aimlessly. It bares the errant traces of the ceilings blue paintbrush. These wiry twisted thread ends, are fitted with a small plastic converter. To short and out of reach, it is not to be used.
The path is no longer even. Its foundations have sunk and risen because of undergrowth. It is autumn and crisp yellow leaves lay upon this swell of small concrete squares. The leaves are narrow and thin and are scattered across the Polaroid’s frame. Predominantly they gather at the centre of the image, where they almost create a knowable pattern. A speckled light from above holds and frames some, while letting others drift. It is as if the wind is shaping and designing their movements as an expression. The camera’s flash holds what was lost on a Berlin autumn day.
A cream coloured curtain hangs across the Polaroid’s frame. It looks to be heavy and is set in semi spherical folds. The camera’s flash has underexposed the image creating a slight cast of both magenta and green. The folds are awkward and uneven. Each is lined at its edges by a black shadow, suggesting the camera’s flash was the only light source available. The folds lift in and out of focus.
A Chestnut-Coloured Carpet (Thera Cognata) moth sits with its wings spread wide on the curtains centre fold. Usually this type of moth is between 11 and 14mm in size. Within the Polaroid the moths intricate detail is lost but its colouring, a few indentations and its profile is visible.
Late at night, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, a moth sits centre image, small and still. Illuminated by a sudden flash.
A wallpaper pattern of stemmed flowers, that loop and crawl against an off-white colouring, hold and frame a five by seven-inch photograph. The flowers hold four colours, a sea blue, burgundy, beige and an autumn brown. The wallpapers tones have been dulled due to the effects of direct sunlight. Because of the camera’s flash, a white trace of the previous wallpaper’s pattern can just be seen below the paper’s surface. The reach of the flash lessens toward the edge of the Polaroid’s frame, clouding and darkening the off-white wallpaper.
The photograph is unframed. It sits centre left cutting the path of a stem. The print is just larger than a blooming flower and is small in the Polaroid’s frame. The photograph is a multiple exposure. It is a mistake. Many differing moments have been captured on a single negative.
At the photographs right, there is a mosaic of colours cut with harsh white horizontal lines. No specific detail can be distinguished. The resulting mosaic creates a layer of harsh abstractions. In direct contrast, at the photograph’s left, three side portraits are clearly visible. They are framed by a black lacking detail. Dominating through its size and clarity is a double portrait of a man with curly black hair who looks to be in his fifties. With his shoulders hunched and his eyes downcast he looks to be tired or simply ‘lost in thought’. Less prominent, because of size and visibility, is a woman’s portrait. She holds a white porcelain tea-cup to her mouth. Her exposure is registered between that of the man’s two profile and the photographic black framing both. Her portrait is blended into layers of multiple exposures.
Polaroid no. 6 consists of a library table and a red plastic stool. It is a child’s seat in a children’s library. There are no books visible within frame, but small wooden presses to the left of the table hint at their presence. The libraries P.V.C flooring reflects the cameras flash allowing its light blue colouring, wisps of white. The library table is square and has slender black legs with the table’s surface having a cream vinyl finish. Fixed to the centre of the table’s top, is a square mat. It is three-quarters the size of the table.
The mat is a lined pattern of three squares, finished with a border. The pattern is thickly lined in black against a white background. Each square is equally spaced, although the border is only an inch in diameter. The border serves as a beginning and an end. Starting from the centre of each side of the outer square (not the border) four lines dissect the middle square and finish at the outline of the inner square. Laid upon the pattern is a circular sweet tin. It sits towards the right top corner, covering two dissecting lines. This gold coloured tin is filled with a colourful array of Bleistifte, Kugelschreiber, Farbstifte and Anschreiber.
From left to right M. L. and T. are seated on a green couch. The couch is placed against a beige/yellow sitting room wall. All three adopt formal poses. Shoulders pulled back, hands crossed laid on knee each look directly towards the camera. Their eyes appear visibly clear and steady as they sit shoulder to shoulder. Overall the three, sitting together, appear prepared. It is as if mistakes have been made before, and as such, distrust the cameras flash.
The camera’s crop begins below their knees. A poster is pinned just above their heads at the mid point of the picture plane. It is about twenty by sixteen inches in size. With no image the poster is covered in a stream of yellow blockish texts laid upon a black background. The text is too small to be identified, but taken as a whole, a grid like construct is revealed. Block after block of text, standing as if pillars. Behind them a wall is painted with the warmth of the yellow and beige colouring. Above the poster, a clock made from a seven-inch vinyl.
Polaroid no. 4 is a portrait of my mother. A newly exposed Polaroid, held in her left hand, holds her gaze. My mother stands in the left hand side of the frame, leaving an empty blackness in the centre right of the image. Her left hand, extended at the elbow, punctuates this exaggerated darkness. The flash of the camera is strong enough to register my mothers profile but not the evening’s hedges, plants and grasses. She is alone in the image, wearing a white top and blue work pants. The camera’s flash has illuminated the white top excessively, almost bleaching the material. My mother is illuminate as she stands distinctly amidst a late Kilkenny evening.
The Polaroid in her hand is moments away from fully developing. As she stares, her portrait slowly appears to her. My mother looks expectant as the Polaroid cloudy magenta colouring takes shape. Moments earlier she had shaped her body, placing both feet together, stretching out her shoulders and raising her head, K. looked directly into the camera.
Scattered, yellow leaves lay in the foreground of the image. The leaves, because of the camera’s flash, are slightly blurred. The resulting pattern creates a line of sight that leads towards the wooden frame of a gazebo. It sits centred in the background of the Polaroid. The gazebo is framed by two singular beech trees, one closer than the other. A worn concrete path is laid in a semi circle reaching from the left centre to the right centre. From the tree to the left, the path arches to meet the gazebo and then arches back to the second tree. Grouped trees clutter to the left and right background of the image. Berlin’s autumn’s foliage covers the worn grass surrounding the gazebo and its trees. In the far background, directly behind the frame, a brightly painted white apartment block overlooks the scene.
The gazebo provides no shelter from the weather or passer bys curiosity. Wooden poles placed in a circle support diagonal poles that lead into two central poles. The poles are jointed together and have the appearance of durability and stability. The frame has been freshly varnished. Within the gazebo four backed benches are placed in a semi circle, facing the camera. The flooring is sanded with no vegetation. All benches are unoccupied. The landscape is neither park nor garden, although it is communal.
Within the Polaroid, two photographs of D. lay side-by-side. The pair edge to the centre left of the image. Leaving a dark residing border above, below and to the right, measuring a half an inch. Taken by her brother L., both are horizontal night time portraits. D. is pictured in quick succession, the first unaware the second aware. Unaware she looks to be lost in taught her gaze is lowered. She holds her bag close to her chest. Flatten it almost resembles a colourful fan. D. is wrapped tight against the night time cold of Berlin, wearing a white wool hat, a grey scarf and a deep blue jacket. She is framed by a city dark, with the camera’s flash reflecting of a distant street sign. It is the flash of the camera that alerts her. Upon the second flash she holds the camera’s gaze.
The flash of the Polaroid camera reflects upon the surface of the second photographic print. Never impinging upon the first. It bleaches the left corner, lessening as it creeps to the centre of the image. The surface grain of the photograph becomes clear.