Yesterday I saw a photography exhibit at an undisclosed art gallery in New York. Along with the large prints, they also had these contact sheets stuck on little boxes up on the wall. Contact sheets are when the photographer first takes a roll of film and develops multiple little pictures on a sheet in order to choose which ones to make into larger prints. No, I have no idea what they are.


The gallery had also put out these little magnification cones you could use to look at the contact sheets. It was really fun to actually get involved like that rather than just drift past whatever large thing is on the wall like usual. Perhaps making a face or two as my contribution. Or maybe trying to impress my date? Or anyone else available by recognizing one or two of the photos, out loud, from across the room. Even if I’m wrong, I can always walk up to the placard and go, “Oh yeah, of course, so and so,” and still feel cool.


Anyway this do-it-yourself arrangement was great unexpected fun, and it definitely allowed me to play a brief but crucial role in the exhibit. My first achievement was convincing a pair of Asian tourists that what I was looking at was extremely interesting. I did this by emitting a variety of murmurs of ecstasy and delight while gazing intently through the little cone and thinking of some happy memory from my childhood. Other memories would allow me to make a tiny old art crone pivot in place. A bald guy with a frontal fanny pack smile. And I think I may also have been the cause for a very pointed muttering from one spouse to another. But I can’t be totally sure. They did have a baby.


Of course I immediately wanted to do something like that on the website, so other people could have the same fun time as I just did. But it wouldn’t work. You can’t look at a monitor through a cone and expect anything great to happen. They’re just aren’t the pixels for it. And this is what frustrates me so much about experiencing art, or anything, in real life. Because not everybody else gets to have the experience. Those people who couldn’t or wouldn’t or for whatever reason just didn’t go.


So my next plan was to send everyone I know a ticket to come to New York and see this thing. Which I did. Unfortunately, I was not be able to make sure it dumped rain on them too that day and that they forgot to bring their umbrella and that they pretended it was okay because Chelsea has so much more to offer than anyone could ever imagine. So it just wasn’t the same.


But even with all of this I still wasn’t satisfied. The entire world needed to have the exact same experience I just had. This was obvious to me. So then I thought I could get a contact sheet of my own and a magnifying lens and mail it to someone. Then they could mail it to someone else. And so on. Forever. Until somebody broke the lens. I told my lady friend who is sitting across from me in the coffee shop about this five seconds ago, and she has just reminded me how much everyone hates chain letters. Yea. That’s true. What a dumb idea.


Anyway, here’s a link to a silly YouTube video.



August 2007