While I was looking through a stack of postcards, this image from London’s Natural History Museum jumped out, so I’ll be using it today to write to a friend. The picture was taken by Malcolm Hey, is entitled “Reclining emperor shrimp” and won a Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 2005.
The textures, the colour, and generally the calm and sense of whimsy that emanates from it are what makes this piece of photography so attractive. But but what triggered my posting this right now is the explanatory paragraph on the back of the card, which starts as follows:
Twirling and whirling in a crimson leotard and white tutu, the Spanish dancer (a large nudibranch, or seaslug) emerges to feed at night. Sometimes it has a passive partner, an emperor shrimp, tucked in the frilly folds of its gills. The tiny shrimp (about a centimetre – 0.4 inches long) turns red to blend in with its host’s costume.
you can look at technology as a living tree: the trunk bearing branches, the branches leafing out. or you can see it as a net: each knot tying up threads from many sides. but the human reality is more intricate than either one. we have been looking at one invention that began pretty purely out of the conception of a need: the hope to change the person who takes pictures from a harried, off-stage observer into someone who is a natural part of the event. no single thread wove this invention. not lens, not moving mirror, not film chemistry, not clever circuits. they are coordinate: parts of a single strategy, working together to protect and fulfill the original hope. this invention is finally a system. call it a system of novelties.
but even that is not enough. the camera enters the real world only once it is precisely manufactured in quantity. that process, too, reflects a civilized concern. it has its visual beauty. it rewards skill and care with immediate feedback. in the end, it links the inventors, the engineers, the workers, the distributors into one chain of craftsmanship. the user is the final link. the device helps meet the universal need to do things well. it offers as a matter of course a tool for supplying a rich texture to memory. more than that, thoughtful use can help reveal meaning in the flood of images which makes up so much of human life. We hope the user will fully complete the chain […].
The excerpt starts at 7:41. The length of the film is 10:51. The entire thing is well worth watching, as a study in (granted, promotional) technology communication.