For anyone who ever used Kodak film in their lifetime, the above photo by photographer Robert Burley of the demolition of Kodak’s film production buildings 65 & 69 in Rochester, New York may result in a momentary pause in comprehension of the slow death of a photography giant.
Burley has spent the past seven years documenting the end of the analog film era—not just Kodak, but also Agfa, Polaroid and other film and paper manufacturers—all through the lens of his 4×5 film camera, accurately recorded on the very celluloid that the project documents.
[styledbox type=”general” align=”center”][blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]To be in attendance at [the demolition of Buildings 65 and 69] was to experience something thrilling and disheartening at once. The thrill came from the deafening explosions and the unreal collapse, only taking seconds, of an enormous and cavernous building. This was invariably followed by an eerie silence; spectators, many of whom were former employees and had spent the better part of their lives working in these buildings, quietly got into their cars and went home. In each instance, I believe, I was one of the few photographers recording the event on film. When I looked into the crowds in front of my view camera, I saw an array of digital devices—cell phones, camcorders, and cameras—capturing a final ‘Kodak moment.'[/blockquote][/styledbox]
On Burley’s web site, images of empty, and deserted industrial operations of the analog age come in wave after wave of emptiness, matching the vacated voids of warehouses, production facilities and abandoned equipment. From the matte-black walls of Kodak’s darkroom film production to the deserted Waltham, Massachusetts campus of Polaroid, Burley’s images quietly depict both the physical and human impact the digital transition of the last 15 years has had on the soul of the film industry.
Burley has released his body of work in a new book titled “The Disappearance of Darkness” available through Amazon, as well as a touring gallery show. You can learn more about Robert Burley and his exhibition at his web site.
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