Thursday, October 29, 2009

her mister's voice

hmv1

hmv2

as anyone who reads the blog regularly knows, i collect early photographs related to music, and am partial to images of records and record players. when a fellow collector led me to this photograph on ebay, it was of course mainly because of the prominent image of a giant "morning glory" victrola horn in the picture. i thought the dealer wanted a bit too much money for a somewhat morose looking old woman and a flowery speaker horn until i noticed the framed portrait hanging on the wall behind the subjects.

this framed photograph, probably a wedding portrait, clearly pictures the same woman, quite a bit younger, along with a gent, whom i would assume must've been her husband. the fact that we see the woman in the photograph twice, in different stages of life, is quite incredible. it is through these two representations of time, within a single photograph, that we can compare the woman as she was in youth with the woman she is in life, as photographed... you can compare the two faces and follow the passage of time.

for those who may not know the story of the original victor dog mascot and the ad line "his master's voice", it referred to the idea that a dog's owner could record his own voice for posterity, and after he was dead, his voice would reproduce so clearly when played on a victrola, that the dog (whose head is slightly bent in confusion) would believe he was hearing his master speaking to him from the dead.

in light of this, it certainly is no great leap to imagine that the relationship between the earlier wedding picture and the latter image of the woman, "partnered" with the victrola instead of her husband, suggests the recordings and playback mechanism as a surrogate for what has passed through life and is now (at the time the photograph was taken) gone. there she sits alone in a chair accompanied by a mute gramophone, which may or may not comfort her in her loss and loneliness. her hairstyle seems to remain the same, but her "love" is clearly missing.

certainly the look on her face doesn't do anything to dispel the feeling of sadness, and the images of her, young and old in the same photograph, seem to speak about the fragility of life - as if at some point there could simply be a photograph of the couple on the wall, and two victrolas, silent and still, in the forefront...

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, this is her husband speaking from the dead.

I took the photograph.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

as usual a great photo - a question - is she wearing apple iPod earbuds? there's a suspiciously familiar white line runnibg down from herr ear to a shuffle (perhaps) clipped to her blouse?
j

10:42 PM  
Anonymous thecedarchest said...

A wonderful find and beautifully written comments on the photo. I really enjoyed this post.

2:09 PM  

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