Photophile by Maximilien Luc Proctor

By just spotting something unremarkable in the urban wilderness, lifting a lens and framing it, he felt like nicknaming himself ‘Duchamp.’ People could examine the world through their critical theory lenses all they wanted – Barthes, Derrida, Foucault – but his was a very physically real lens. Only through his discovery, selection, and plucking of the image from the depths of obscurity and carrying it out into the world at large did it become art. This process itself was ‘art’ more than the finished photograph on display could ever pretend to be. The lens was heavy and the day closing – he didn’t have the f-stop necessary to accommodate these conditions so he began the trek home.

Watching faces on the bus became ephemeral photography. Certain images he held longer than others, though none were likely to make any lasting impression. As he kept watching he truly began to wonder if this was indeed just as valid of a form of photography.

Twenty-three hours later he stood behind his lens again, gazing into an alley. At the end of it he thought he could make out the shape of a couple, but they were obscured by parked cars and branches. It was exceptionally difficult to set-up a shot like this so he knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity he’d come across. He framed them and zoomed in as little as possible. They were slightly more clear though. Somehow the lens had a tendency to clear up reality. He thought maybe he should start pointing it at his family and friends and see what it might tell him.

At the end of the alley the two figures seemed to be engaged in some sort of conflict. Their expressions were too far away to make out but he imagined them scowling out one another – eyes cutting and winded. The reality of the situation appeared to be far more docile; their calm resonating through brick walls – even though bricks don’t tend to resonate. They might even be smiling, hands playfully intertwined. He scowled at how unfortunate this was for his photo. Then a hand was raised. It met the face of the second figure with such force that nearby pigeons left their perches. Dazed but snapping, young Jens could not believe his luck. 16 would be a formative year for him, he’d decided. This was five years prior to getting hired to lens Law of the Lion, yet the experience would remain and return to him continuously on the set so many years later.

There was a second impact, and the second figure fell. Jens thought to himself about the improbability, nay, impossibility of it. The first figure began to look around and Jens ducked behind a parked car, suddenly endlessly grateful to what he had considered a mere obstruction moments earlier. He stayed hidden, heard a thud, waited, and then looked. They were both gone.

‘No. These things do not happen,’ was his mantra for the moment, but apparently these things did happen. Lying in bed made the world seem more stable but reality was sealed out by the closed window. He’d seen it only too many times on celluloid. He recalled Blow-Up and Blow Out and The Conversation and that morning’s breakfast and the eggs that could’ve been a chicken – or could they? He’d heard both arguments presented as fact but never bothered to look it up for himself.

Eleven and a half hours later he saw the headlines and deleted yesterday’s shots.

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