The Smell of Glass Bead Screens

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Locating Suburbia: memory, place, creativity, 2013, 1, pp. 57 - 80
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In 2004 the last of the Kodak slide carousels rolled off the production line and in 2009 Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome, the `classic slide-film emulsion it had developed seventy years earlier. The click-chuh-clunk sound of slide carousels and rich saturated colours of Kodachrome were both deeply associated with slide shows. The end of their manufacture effectively marked the death of the photo-chemical slide show as a popular medium. Despite its rich history and prevalence in post-war culture, written commentaries (critical or otherwise) on the slide show form are almost non-existent. It is likely that individual collectors and museums will keep individual slides and slide-related technology for some time. However, if we are not careful we will lose all record of how these technologies were used and the place of the slideshow in 20th century culture will disappear. We need memories to make these objects come alive. We need to remember how we used these objects to remember. The Smell of Glass Bead Screens investigates memories of the (photo-chemical) slide show, and looks at the place of the slide show in suburban culture. The chapter contributes to a missing piece in histories of both photography and popular culture. What insights does a history of the slide show offer in thinking about changes from analogue to digital? How did we use slides to remember and shape the image of ourselves? What does a history of the slide show tell us about changes in the way we see and imagine ourselves and the world in the early 21st century?
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