A Tintype Reveals

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017

A few days ago, Margaret Muza took my tintype at her gorgeous studio in the Pfister lobby. The intricate chemical and photographic process she uses is a tale for another post—I’ve never seen anything like it, and the whole thing is truly fascinating. Something I wasn’t expecting, though, is the surreal moment Margaret places the black plate into a bath and your face materializes, recognizable as yourself but also somehow strange. In a digital age where we take photos made of pixels and immediacy, there is something mystifying in seeing what this antique process makes of your face. Watching my image slowly emerge felt beautiful and enigmatic.

As she swirls the bath, the ghost
of my face surfaces, hollowed eyes.
The light comes
first, then a swell
of shadows.
My face emerges
as a dark dawning.

But this isn’t the face of mine
I recognize.
This is my timeless
face, as I might have looked
a hundred years ago.

It is disquieting to see
my face
outside time,
features budding without artifice,
this face of mine
that would have dawned
in any age.

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