Tuesday, 1 April 2014
My Becher-like taxonomical pursuit of the decorative possibilities of barrier-tape and plastic mesh fencing may be beyond the grasp of some readers (not so much "Mysterious Barricades" as "Downright Baffling Obstacles"), but these daily five-finger exercises do at least give me a reason to get off my backside at lunchtime and beat the bounds of the campus.
I don't know whether it's just that I've become a familiar loony, like the alleged sometime professor of Maths who used to wander the place shouting incomprehensible greetings and occasionally dropping his trousers (whatever happened to him, I wonder?), but I rarely attract any attention when I'm about my photographic business. Today, however, was different.
I was hunkered down inside my favourite telephone booth, squinting at the fresh tape-marks and abrasions in the sunshine, when the door was opened. I assumed that, by malign coincidence, the only person on campus without a mobile phone wanted to use the pay-phone. "Sorry," I said, "I'll come out." "No," the person said, "I just wondered what you were doing?"
Now, I suppose it's possible that, from the outside, it may have looked a bit odd, suspicious even, to see a man squatting down inside a phone booth. But it takes a certain kind of guileless curiosity, actually to open the kiosk door and ask what's going on. I must admit I was tempted to play the situation for laughs -- quite a few obvious turns on telephone booth tropes sprang instantly to mind -- but instead waggled my camera, and said, cheerily, "Taking photographs!" "But why? What on earth of?" he said.
This is always a tricky one to negotiate. I could see he was genuinely baffled, and perhaps even concerned for my sanity. It's easy to forget, quite how far beyond most people's concept of "normal" any photography is that does not involve close relatives or safely-accredited subjects (sunsets, kittens, porn, etc.). The beauty of digital cameras, however, is that you can show, not tell. "Here," I said, "Have a look", and put the camera into "chimping" mode. I showed him the image below.
I could see he wasn't convinced. Which was quite disappointing, and even a little insulting, so -- with my best "Good day to you, sir!" expression -- I firmly shut the door and carried on. There's none so blind as they that will not see.