Magic Carpet

Time travel and photography...my fascinations.

I was in Bearsden, as a teenager, at my friend Karen's house. She was looking through a book of old family photographs. They were yellowed and the clothes and poses showed the passage of time. These were people who were solidly in the past. Names and places unremembered. Relationships with others in the photos were as uncertain as the pencil markings on the back.

The images were captured for people to remember themselves by later.

My dad had a Polaroid camera back in the 70's as I was growing up in Scotland. One of the chunky very square hunks of plastic with the set of 5 flash bulbs that would be inserted in a top slot and then rotated to show the other 5 bulbs that would allow the 10 heat sensitive photo papers to spring to light. I loved the way the image formed at the time of printing; moving from an empty space to a faded image and then minutes after the image was taken there was a robust image of me. I was not the photographer, but I would see the image of myself appear as if I were really watching myself from that recent past. Seeing myself a little younger than I was. Seeing myself as my dad saw me. Developing before the eyes.

Living in New York, when I became a father, my parents shared a few of my childhood photos with me.

Among them was a Polaroid of me sitting on a piece of wood in the garden. I had a vivid memory that I was playing on it as if it were a magic carpet taking me on adventures. It took me not only to invented lands in my mind but on travels though time. On that magic transport even if I had taken a trip through the times of my life it would have been possible but impossible to know as my own future.

Images of me alone, with a wife, with a child, with children in different parts of the world, all drawn together around this one time traveller - a wee boy in a garden in Glasgow who is looking out a future that can only be seen by people looking behind him.

Recommended Reading

Time and Again and From Time to Time by Jack Finney.