‘The Silver Curtain’ Is an experimental documentary film project that explores the unique history of analog photography in Naarm.
Informed by the applicants experience working in a photographic film developing lab and ongoing research into the Kodak Factories that once occupied The Yarra River, Merri Creek, and Edgars Creek supported by Museums Victoria.
This project will expand our understanding of industrial memory preservation, and the intersection of art practice, alchemy, and ecological relations. We intend to interrogate the compulsion to authenticate our human experience through mass image-making and how this shapes our collective affinity to time and matter. Central to this proposal is the tension between preserving the past and forging regenerative futures.
Behind the confines of a musky darkroom we see babies being born, dinner parties, feet, cocaine, sex, picnics, school camp, protests, children crying, family holidays, paintings, dancing, the wilderness, Loneliness, Christmas, and New Years. All of these moments amalgamate into timely timelessness. Scanning through image after image, we spend 8 hours a day manufacturing memories. We intentionally forget our own memories to facilitate those of other peoples. I often mix up events that have happened to me or forget what my own birthday was like and yet I can remember a stranger’s. between 9-5 we live in the worlds of other people and they have no idea that we have imagined their entire personhood in our heads only to forget them all before lunch.
So much of what I see is lost in the sheer quantity that passes through our vision. There is only so much that one mind can retain and the photos that stick to my consciousness paint a perverse picture of the relationship humanity has with memory and time.
Looking over where Merri meets Edgars creek, lies a major trajectory for this film. Encased by a barbed-wire fence, the last of Coburg’s Kodak manufacturing legacy remains. You can still make out the faint letters blocked out by a white paint slightly off hue to the rest of what was once the Kodak Australasia storage facility. The Kodak Australasia complex in Coburg was built in 1957 to meet the growing demand for analog technology production in so-called Australia. Due to the evolution and growing popularity of digital photography, the branch was forced to close in 2004 after 47 years of production on the site. Though most of the manufacturing complex that once called Coburg home has been demolished, what remains has sparked a determination to uncover the environmental implications of the Eastman Kodak complex on the adjoining waterways.
Kodak has found itself in extensive ethical quandary over the past 50 years. Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York declared bankruptcy in 1998 due to a civil lawsuit filed by the surrounding community over the company’s knowingly hazardous waste management practices. Eastman Kodak had spewed more toxic emissions into the environment than any other corporation in the state of New York between 1980 and the early 2000s.
‘The Silver Curtain’ intends to explore this complex history of Photography in Naarm’s past and present while reckoning with the compelling significance of photography as a facilitator of storytelling, history, personal love, loss and nostalgia.
MATERIAL FROM THE KODAK HERITAGE COLLECTION
Item MM 96553
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Exterior View of Kodak Factory, Abbotsford, Victoria, 1940-1955
Item HT 48862
Booklet - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, 'Facts for Sensitized Goods Workers', circa 1946-1956
Item MM 141217
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, 'Put-On Section, J.7 West Wing', Coburg, circa 1963
1.Item MM 143336
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Film Examining Room, Abbotsford, circa 1940s
2.Item HT 26697
Site Plan - Kodak Archive, 3/1/11, 'General Factory Layout', Abbotsford, 1956
3.Item MM 143345
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Evaporating Room, Silver Nitrate Dept, Abbotsford, circa 1940s
Item MM 142280
Negative - Worker Operating Film Perforator, Kodak Factory, Coburg, circa 1960s
Item MM 141175
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Emulsion Grinder, Coburg, circa 1963
Item HT 42913
Album - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, 'Extra Prints of Coburg Lecture', circa 1960s
Item MM 95862
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Data Processing Equipment Room, Building 8, Kodak Factory, Coburg, 1964
Item MM 96621
Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Man Stirring Emulsion Kettle, Abbotsford, Victoria, 1930-1960