The Time Machine Book Jacket

Media, Observatory, The Arts

We like to do things the Blue Peter way round at Fowler Towers, so for the cover of ‘Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared’, Strange Attractor Press’s Mark Pilkington got the excellent SF Said to photograph a little set I’d knocked up using a camera he’d been given, an old large-format Poloroid that makes everything look as if it was photographed in 1972.

Whether he takes landscapes or close ups, the result is genuinely peculiar; in each case he appears to have produced something you might have found in the back of a cupboard. One problem is the film stock, which is long out of date and must be kept in Clingfilm at a low temperature to survive. The finished cover is struck directly from the pos print, there being no other, and the book will soon be available. The ‘Invisible Ink’ column continues in the Indie every Sunday – meanwhile, here’s the actual Poloroid.

13 comments on “The Time Machine Book Jacket”

  1. glasgow1975 says:

    There has been a bit of a ‘real’ photography revival, but I do often wonder how many ‘rolls of film’ are actually left, surely there’s a finite amount or are some types still manufactured?

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    What is a “pos point”?
    A nice sound to that “Fowler Towers”
    I am reading Blue Murder by Colin Watson, republished by Faber Finds, which is a nifty paperback reprint house. A female character in the book, Birdie Clemenceaux, likes to add “-ikins” to words. I can just hear her saying: “Oh Goddikins! That’s all Fowler Towers.”
    We have “Faulty Towers” running on a local public television station at present. Funnikins.

  3. Nostalgia.Detected says:

    Has the book actually come out yet? Amazon have a publication date of 4th October, but when I went to order it from my local bookshop they were told it was the 10th, and it still hasn’t arrived yet.

  4. admin says:

    That’s because it hasn’t quite been decided when the book will appear, but you’ll hear here first.

  5. Nostalgia.Detected says:

    Thank-you 🙂

  6. John Howard says:

    Hi Glasgow, I think that you will find that Ilford are still making film stock. As well as printing paper. They tend more towards the black & white. Agfa are also making stock and they tend towards colour.

  7. snowy says:

    I was distracted by the Eero Aamio chair in the background. And then had to go hunting for the tell tale signs of ‘sticky back plastic’, toilet roll tubes and spontaneously combusting tinsel.

    G’75, as JH said, and even polaroid instant film is still made by other companies. Though 8×10″ instant seems only to be made in B&W.

    There are plenty of what were high end film cameras appearing in charity shops for a tiny fraction of the original cost. I have my eyes out for a B&H Dial 35. [It takes half frames so 72 shots on a roll, which keeps the developing costs down.]

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Pos print is positive print, Dan, and they’re using it because polaroids don’t produce a negative. If you want prints you have to photograph the original picture with standard film and print your pictures from that negative – hmm, an interneg?
    Wow, I actually wrote a techy sounding bit and I didn’t know that they made large format polaroid cameras. It’s harder to get film developed now that so many people have gone digital.

  9. snowy says:

    Ms M, I think you under sell your considerable talents.

    Having ‘endured’ a number of photo-shoots, the large format ‘polaroid’ was an add-on to a wet film camera. It seemed to be most often used when the client would insist on hanging about and offering ‘input’. If a couple of ‘instants’ were banged off, the client usually went away satisfied. And then the work could start properly.

    The original idea of the ‘instant film adaptor’ was to save shooting lots of expensive large format ‘wet’ film, the processing and in the worst possible case a re-shoot.

    If instant is to be the new form of ‘Lomography’ then it would be churlish to decry it.

    I must stop now, the notion of total reliance on digital photography is bringing on a ‘social networking’ moment.


  10. Helen Martin says:

    Now that I’ve looked up lomography, which seems to be to photography what vinyl is to recording, I have a whole new thing to investigate since it seems that community is very active here in the Vancouver area but what happens when you develop E6 film using a C41 process? My husband says the people have been in the darkroom too long.

  11. John Howard says:

    Hi Snowy, I still have an Olympus half frame that was purchased in the sixties with my first teen-age pay packet, and it was bought specifically with the double shots per roll of film in mind. Because I liked 400 asa black & white, the enlargements were sometimes interesting.

  12. Helen Martin says:

    My word, John, weren’t they rather blurry? I seem to remember that the more you want to enlarge the lower your ASA should be so as to have more detail. Not that ASA 64 is available any more. Watch someone come up with a source to prove me wrong.

  13. Helen Martin says:

    All of us fans of film photography should follow this week’s Sheldon at It is positively frightening.

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