Spotlight TEDx Talk: Double exposure mysteries from thrift store film

Artist Nick George uses found film to create photos that blend the past with the present.

Nick George uses found film to create photos that blend the past with the present. (Photo: Nick George)

While browsing a thrift store one day, photographer Nick George found a camera with a roll of film still inside. Eight photos had been taken on the roll. The mystery of the contents of those eight photos captured George’s imagination, he says in a talk at TEDxColumbus, and he bought the camera.

What followed was the launch of a years-long project to meld past and present, strange and familiar, by reusing film in thrift store cameras. The first results “were a bit unnerving,” says George. “I was messing with someone else’s camera, with their captured, yet unfixed images. Still — I, too — had made these pictures. I was lost somewhere between appropriation and collaboration.”

One of Nick George's found film images (Photo: Nick George)

One of Nick George’s found film images (Photo: Nick George)

One of Nick George's found film images (Photo: Nick George)

One of Nick George’s found film images (Photo: Nick George)

His curiosity to understand others through donated film inspired him to continue searching out thrift store cameras. With each camera he finds, he rewinds the roll of film and then photographs the shelves of the thrift store in which the camera was found. “I never know what to expect,” he says. “When the film had in fact been used before, a double exposure results. My image punctures the previous image on the film. Two images separated by time and space, between consumer and conceptual approaches to the medium, become one.”

For more, watch George’s whole talk below:

Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker — an artist — provides a multifaceted look into one of his projects by sharing the reasons why he makes this art as well as the apprehensions he has about the work. He explains the origins of the project, his process and its outcomes with clarity and candor and keeps his focus on the art and its place in the greater world.

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