The Halide Project
By Matthew Herzog
*Be sure to submit for The Halide Project’s Call for Entry: Traditional and Alternative Photography called Living Image. Velvet Glove is excited to partner with this competition by awarding one participant a featured article. Look to the end for more information.*
In the city, there appears a crowd for us all. If you want to flick beer-sweat and lob your bod’ around a hot mausoleum, there’s a place for that. If you’re devoted to poultry-shearing blouses into crop tops and belting Carhartts with a shoestring, there’s a dancehall to show it off.
But what if you’re pro-analog? What if your attractions are not just music or Philly fashion (whatever this 90’s Ohioan meets upcycled gutter punk style is), it’s FujiFilm, ORWO, wet plates, and a Yashica Mat-124 G?
Well, as if Philly could ever let us down, *cough*, there’s a group to join.
I’d like to introduce you to The Halide Project - a two year young analog photographer’s dream. In its current state it’s a well focused project with an eye toward “...photographic exhibits, workshops, community workspace(s), and an artist residency focusing on film and alternative process photography.” (thehalideproject.org)
What makes the Project so curious, separate from the void they’re filling in the recent loss of public darkrooms like Light Room & Yo! Dark Room, is a desire to connect current and provide new opportunities to the public. Halide has connected with local organizations like The Plastic Club and Fleisher to build a support system for artists much like a net - an idea very different than hermetic, lone-wolf art organizations.
This isn’t just a group with which you satisfy your abandon porn or learn what a Yashica Mat-124 G is, Halide has developing interests in public service and workshops. There’s talk of a traveling darkroom for neighborhoods typically barren of the analog arts. Members can participate in an annual print exchange, regular outings, and hopefully very soon an affordable annual fee that folds into darkroom time.
While at a recent Halide outing to the coal footed Graffiti Pier in North Philly, I talked with members including Board Member Susan Stromquist. She said, ‘[Halide] encourages opportunity, encourages motivation to come out. Everything we do is open to the public. Most of what we offer is free or as low cost as possible.’
Now, I’d hate to equate analog to the suppressed or slim interest similar to fetishism or the body hot PhilaMOCA or Philly fashion - aka dépêche mode with jelly bracelets - but in the digital oligarchy where analog has become hard to produce, it’s easy to bracket them. Near all our more accessible possibilities, analog appears difficult to maintain. Hell, I went to the Halide event, left my film camera at home and instinctively took Instagram shots with my phone. (And I pride myself on reversing technophilic instincts, being somewhere between Trek futronic and the Big Button Senior phone.)
So the question becomes, how is Halide going to survive? The answer, - an ideology they’ve laced into their local engagement and economic mindfulness - connect not compete, be a resource and an opportunity. The effort felt on the pier was that digital orgasms aren’t a habit to break just expand, that analog isn’t a filer term, it’s an approachable skill.
Halide highlights the benefits of what some of us grew up with. There is atmosphere to film, a manner about its craft. Silver on the fingers, the addictive smell of dev and fixer, militia photography aka lamography aka LOMO. I must admit, seeing the pier through the lens of an analog camera, a similar one used by the mysterious photographer/nanny Vivian Maier, was quite a treat. Even more so knowing those I was surrounded by could tell me all about Vivian Maier and the history of the camera she used.
Maybe it was the sound of a crank-handle, the click of the shutter or the matte ground glass, but looking at Halide members through such a viewfinder was like seeing antiquity pace before you. That’s too romantic. It was a moment whose photograph was as charming as its subjects. Damn it, that’s still romantic. Fuck it, analog is alluring. It’s attractive. The aesthetic often feels as engaging as its substance.
As I said in the beginning, if you look for it you can find your crowd. If you listen to the city’s possibility you’ll hear an invitation for the uncanny. The Halide Project isn’t just a group promoting a proper tool, it’s a method of sight worth experiencing.
Though Velvet Glove exists on the digital realm, we love our analog. Look at our Exposure series for proof. As part of that initiative, we’re proud to partner with Halide Project for their Living Image: Call for Entry. Check out last year’s Grand Prize winner, Sage Lewis below and a link to the Call For Entry HERE.
This year, Velvet Glove will award one participant a feature article. We’ll talk to ya, we’ll drink with ya (even over skype). To all the analog lovers out there, both Halide and Velvet Glove are excited to meet you.