Deer in Headlights

From time to time I am invited to give a talk at various not-for-profit institutions.

Public libraries, senior centers, and historical societies are examples.

The talk is based on an exhibition I organized more than (shudder) 20 years ago: “The Arts & Crafts Movement in Western New York, 1900-1920.”

Way back then, when indoor plumbing had just been invented and was for only the wealthy, all 140-plus objects in the exhibit were photographed – on 35 mm film, believe it or not – for the exhibit’s printed catalogue. Too, a physical 35mm slide set was created. These slides today accompany my 45-minute monologue.

Recently, I offered the presentation but had to borrow a slide projector because the sponsoring organization did not have one. If you can believe that.

The sponsor did have a laptop computer and a host of portable digital devices, all of which could be connected to a projector, and each of which would support presentation software.

Anyone with a PowerPoint (or, if you prefer, Keynote or Prezi) presentation would be “all set.”

Sadly, my slide set remains in carousel form, by which I do not mean a circus or amusement park ride.

The slide projector is the medium by which millions of anonymous mid-century suburbanites tortured and oppressed their neighbors with poorly composed, out-of-focus pictures of their most recent vacations.

Today, of course, we do precisely the same thing – inflicting the unwitting – with equally poor and uninteresting photos on Facebook. Thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone camera, we don’t limit ourselves to vacation shots.

I went to my university’s A-V department to borrow a slide projector. Of course it’s no longer called “A-V.” We’re very current, and very hip. And, tellingly, I can’t remember its name.

The attendant, a student as it happens, looked at me blankly after I voiced my request.

As though she didn’t understand the language I was using.

So I tried saying it more slowly: “A sssil-uh-ide pro-ject-tor.”

Nope. Nothing.

Then in a louder, questioning voice: “A SLIDE PROJECTOR?”

Didn’t help. Nor did finger puppets.

Ancient technology, long forgotten or never learned.

I might as well have asked for a typewriter. Or carbon paper.

One thought on “Deer in Headlights

  1. I have two projectors if you ever need to borrow one again! Love the sound of the slides changing. Keeps people awake!

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