I remember the moment when I transitioned from using 35mm slides to PowerPoint digital images for my lectures. It was about 9 years ago when I had been asked to give a lecture at a museum, and the only images the museum could provide me with were digital. I had lectured for the past 10 years or so using slides and was very apprehensive about making the change to digital. I also felt very attached to my collection of little slides, all kept neatly in binders, most labeled carefully and organized into lecture themes. But I realized I was going to have to do so at some point. Right about that time my son was about 1 year old, and I had been watching him tackle new challenges on a daily basis, most notably learning to crawl on all fours, then stand up and then just recently take his first steps and begin to walk. With each one of these challenges, he struggled at first, fell down but then figured it out, and now he was walking. Inspired by Theo’s first wobbly steps, I decided to overcome my discomfort with trying something new and asked a tech person to talk me through some of the basics of PowerPoint. I then gave my first fully digital lecture and realized immediately how much easier this new system was. I had a few glitches at first and on one occasion, my computer wasn’t compatible with a projector and I had to talk without images, but otherwise, I was thrilled to have made this technological leap – and I thank Theo for inspiring me to push myself.
But what to do with all the binders full of slides? Well, I have had them sitting in boxes for years now. A few years back a friend of mine had started making lamps out of recycled slides so I gave her a hundreds of mine and marveled at her creativity. But I still held onto my favorite slides, the Japanese art slides which I used for my favorite lectures. Today, I was going to a curators’ meeting at Scripps College in Claremont, where I taught a course last year. Their art history department has an office where they scan and digitize slides into a database for teaching purposes. I asked my colleague there, Bruce (see February 9) if they could use my Japanese ceramics slides and he said yes. So today, I tidied up my binder full of Japanese ceramics slides and gave it to Bruce in the hope that the slides will be turned into something more useful in his department. Apparently, they can put all the images onto a flash drive for me too. So I won’t really lose them. Does that mean then that I didn’t really give them away? A bit of a Zen koan there. Which reminds me – now I have to sort out my Japanese Buddhist Art slide binder. One step at a time – just like my toddling Theo, all those years ago.