Saturday, 3 October 2015

Adox CMS 20

Off to Milan again, and because I like to live dangerously, let's have a look at Adox CMS 20. It's a film I haven't ever shot before. One of those lith films that was designed to reproduce black-and-white artwork, but at a pinch you can use it for everyday scenes. The packaging is maddeningly vague, so I shot at ISO 20 and developed in the usual way. It seemed to work.

Italy has an interesting attitude to women.

I used my half-frame Olympus Pen FT, because I wanted to stretch out the film. I only had one roll, and no way to test it in advance. CMS 20 has very little grain, and even with half-frame negatives the images I developed are sharp. If it was faster and less contrasty it would be super.

Is it still being made? I'm not sure. I always get Adox and Agfa mixed up. Agfa is dead; Adox is still going. I have no idea if it makes its own film, or repackages stuff it finds in warehouses. Adox targets a tiny niche of black and white thrillseekers who crave unusual films, and it would be a shame if it vanished.

Obviously the film copes with airport X-rays, because I left a half-finished roll in the camera on the way back to the UK. The rest of this post was shot in Shoreditch, infamous hipster capital of London and thus the UK.

Not long ago a gang of ne'er-do-wells smashed the windows of a local estate agent and threw paint at Cereal Killer, a cafe that sells cereal and has a boring frontage, so I didn't photograph it.

They appear to have ignored the frozen yoghurt cafe just across the road and all the other signs of hipsterism. It was a protest against gentrification, but that's silly. Shoreditch was a hipster mecca fifteen years ago, when I lived in London; the people I knew who worked in nearby Hoxton didn't actually live there. Real people haven't lived there for decades. Shoreditch is just like Notting Hill and Brick Lane. Real people don't live there.

Like London's Chinatown, Shoreditch is essentially a street with people walking back and forth, plus a couple of streets coming off it. How do you get there? If you alight at Liverpool Street station and turn right you end up in The City, where deals are made; if you turn left and walk onwards for ten minutes you end up in Shoreditch. Historically Shoreditch was thus full of people who worked in The City during the week, who had money to spare on the weekend on rare groove records that they bought from Shoreditch to take home to the suburbs and put in their Ikea Expedit shelving units.

That economic model is essentially gone nowadays. No-one can afford records, or space to put them. The record shops are more valuable as investment properties than shops, so they've all closed. And not just because of online sales - even before Amazon, the record shops of Shoreditch were menaced by the likes of HMV and Our Price. Britain is now a post-retail, property investment economy. If that entails a certain amount of stagnation, why not? It worked for Switzerland. Let the rest of the world have warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed. We have the cuckoo clock.