Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remote times

click photo to enlarge
Many families seem to have their own name for the ubiquitous remote control devices that litter our houses today. I've heard them called the zapper, the clicker, the changer, the flipper, the digitwotsit, and the plain old remote. I was looking at one of mine as I sat at my desk the other evening. It's the smallest I own, about the size of a credit card, and it came with a £20 USB TV tuner that I occasionally use with my computer monitor.

My current reading is David Kynaston's fascinating history of the period 1951-1957, called "Family Britain". It was one of my Christmas presents, and is of great interest to me because I was born during those years. Though I can remember only a little from my earliest years I can recall enough to recognise many of the domestic details that the author discusses. And, of course much of what was common in that specific period carried on into the following years of my later childhood, which I can remember with greater clarity.

What has this to do with a remote control, you might ask. Well, as I sat pondering my blog I was wondering which objects of today the child of the 1950s would find most "futuristic." TV had taken off in those years of course, and computers were under development, though at that time they filled whole buildings. Glancing down at my desk it occured to me that the tiny remote control, so inexpensive that it was casually discarded in a tray of bits and pieces at the base of my anglepoise lamp (a British design of 1932), would be something that "mini-me" would have found fascinating. "Imagine," I might have thought, "all that power to control things from a distance, with the push of a button." That truly would have been something out of Dan Dare and the "Eagle" comic (begun in 1950).

The young me might also have been impressed by the ability of my little camera to capture this macro shot, hand-held, at base ISO, with the surround of the lens resting on the remote control itself to steady the shot. In fact, the me of today is pretty impressed by that!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/50
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On