Let me explain the project first. It’s totally simple. In theory.
You can read about it on the HP Creative Studio website; but I’ll summarize it for you here. It’s called “Rotating Refrigerator Snapshot Gallery,” and here’s how you do it:
1) Print some of your favorite photos
2) Stick them on the fridge
3) Pretend you are the curator of a photo gallery!
Don’t let the humbleness of your display space keep you from taking the aesthetics of your project seriously! Let the kids get involved! For real–that’s the whole thing.
I figured I could do that pretty easily, even considering my technological ineptitude.
So after struggling and cussing at the machine to try and make it do what I wanted it to, I had a brief, pleasant conversation with tech support, who explained how to print stuff from iPhoto and make the printer realize that it’s supposed to use the paper in the photo tray instead of the main tray.
That’s where I learned about technology. What I learned is that, even though the HP Photosmart Plus printer I have is pretty cool, few people will ever be as happy and relaxed while trying to figure out how to work it as the people in the little video on the HP website are. Most people will probably be happier than I was, and will even figure it out without calling a professional, but no one will ever enjoy it as much as the older woman in the video who gazes at the printer as if it is a delightfully cooing granddaughter.
That’s when I also learned about photo paper. The last time I printed photos on this machine, I used some old paper I found in a drawer in our office/guest room/junkroom annex, and they came out kinda okay, pretty much. This time I used the HP Advanced photo paper, and damned if those prints didn’t look like they just came out of the darkroom. I was really impressed.
Then I went to start arranging my beautiful prints on the fridge, and that’s when I learned about metallurgy. I knew that magnets didn’t stick on the stainless steel front of my fridge because after we first got it, our magnetic poetry kept ending up on the floor. But I didn’t know why. So I used the internets and found out that stainless steel is an alloy, or a variety of alloys, that have different amounts of metals like chromium and nickel in them. Sometimes stainless steel is magnetic, but varieties that contain more nickel are not. I don’t know about you, but to me that was highly gratifying to learn.
Luckily, one of the non-stainless steel sides of my fridge is exposed, so I got busy arranging my awesome new prints there. I did this while my 2-year old twins were sleeping, thinking that it would be a nice surprise for them to see a bunch of their friends and relatives in the kitchen when they came to breakfast. And it was. They started pointing and identifying faces. “Grandma,” they said, and, “Aunt Shanny.” Also, “Skateboard,” and “Cupcake.”
That’s when I learned some stuff about child psychology: Whereas adults like you and me would be satisfied just to gaze upon photos of our loved ones, 2-year olds want to hold and caress the prints. They also like to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate photos, and any other kind of fine art.
So I had to fend them off for a while, until I was able to impress upon them the idea that they should not eat or otherwise destroy these lovely pictures. This didn’t keep them from trying to hold the pictures though, so we played a little game where the kids would pull the pictures down, then we would talk about where we should put them back up, and I would pretend that we were having a perfectly reasonable discussion in which I was fully honoring their artistic autonomy, and then I would stick the picture back on the fridge wherever I wanted to.
So really, this project ended up being like a speed-dating version of the “Rotating Refrigerator Snapshot Gallery” as described on the HP website. They had probably envisioned moving photos around to accommodate new ones, and leisurely shuffling the existing array to create new juxtapositions and perspectives at the whim of the “curators.” In our version, the kids yanked the photos down, and I tried to get them safely back to the fridge before they were dissolved into pulp by baby slobber.