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goodbye and good riddance

Post #111 • September 21, 2003, 9:40 PM

As reported on the Fallon and Rosof artblog:

Kodak Co. will discontinue production of slide projectors and accessories in June, 2004.That would be the CAROUSEL, ETKAGRAPHIC, EKTALITE AND EKTAPRO slide projectors and all accessories.Small quantities of these items will be available through the end of 2004 and the company says it will service and support slide projectors until 2011.

F & R seem dismayed, but I’m looking forward to never shooting slides of my work again. I can shoot my work with a digital camera, clean up images in Photoshop, post them on my website, and bypass the tedium of mailing out expensive packages to people interested in my work who would otherwise see it by squinting up at inch-wide strips of film with overhead flourescent light leaking through them. I can send hundreds of images on a 35-cent CD, instead of $10 worth of slides in a 20-slide slide page.

When soliciting applications for new positions, art departments ask for twenty slides of your work and twenty slides of student work. Why? How many images do you need to evaluate whether you want someone to teach at your school or not? Eight? Fifteen? Ninety? I’ll bet no one with tenure has ever tried to answer that question. Instead, there’s an antiquated custom of requesting twenty slides, because that’s how many fit in a standard 8 1/2×11 slide page. That’s stupid.

Consider this: every time a university advertises a postion, they ask for twenty slides of your work and twenty slides of student work. The slides cost about fifty cents a pop. Typically 250 people apply to each position. If you’re not picky, you can apply for about 25 positions each year, and no one can afford to be picky if they want to land a teaching job. 25 positions times 250 people times 40 slides: 25,000 slides, at $12,500. Consider the gallons of photo chemistry dumped into the sewers. Consider the time spent by intelligent, creative people printing and affixing miniscule lablels.

Slide libraries? A special facility and staff to organize thousands of fragile, decaying, unmigratable images? Heaven forfend that two teachers are teaching two different sections of the same art history class and there’s only one fourteen-year-old slide of the Lybian Sybill to share between them. Slide projectors? As anyone who has ever taken art history knows, wherever there is a slide projector, there is some poor kid who was the AV nerd back in high school who will be called upon to get the thing working again while the class doodles and the teacher makes up stuff to kill time. I would prefer to put my trust in a digital projector running on (ack! ptth!) Windows. Windows has better uptime than the average art-department slide projector.

So off to the dustbin, O 35-millimeter transparency, and take your sorry accoutrements with you. I never loved you, and I’m not sorry to see you go.

UPDATE: Powerpoint encourages inanities, but if my old art history professor had been able to caption the images we were looking at on the screen, I might have been able to figure out who that “Ang” (rhymes with “tang”) person was that she was referring to. (Turned out to be Ingres.)

UPDATE 2: Thinking more about the math here, given the above numbers, 25 applications costs each applicant $500 in slides. The chances of getting each job are 1/250. I calculate that the chances of getting any of those 25 jobs are 100% minus ((249/250)^25): about 10%. That’s a poor wager for someone who needs a job and for whom $500 might be three month’s worth of groceries. (Someone more numerate than me ought to check this.) (The probability calculation, not the price of the groceries.) Put those applications on CDs and the image costs go from $500 to $8.75.

UPDATE 3: Thanks to Modern Art Notes for the link.

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