"discussion of photography is dominated by the concept of time. Photographs appear as devices for stopping time and preserving fragments of the past, like flies in amber"
As 2014 comes to a close we are reminded of the passing of time. Another year has slipped through our fingers like sand through the cracks. Yet the new year will come rushing in to provide us with trillions of new moments and beginnings. It seems fitting for this month's edition of TTL to discuss time and its relationship to photography.
"What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
The camera's shutter has the ability to violently seize a moment in time and fix it in place forever. This is a particularly useful tool that photographers can use to see things that happen too quickly for human perceptions to fully grasp. Thus, the viewer is given the opportunity to study, be moved, and be entertained by images that we would never experience without the assistance of a camera.
Grand TimeWhat the Stars Said
We are crossing the lake of violent time,
singing a little void-song for courage.
Come out and join us, heart that is wounded,
eye that beholds.
We are limited to perceive time under the confines of our shallow ability to process it. We can observe the effects of time during our lifetime but struggle to visualize time on a grander scale. With the aid of photography we are given greater ability to visualize not only the passing of time but the creations of time.
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
Photographs are deaths of their own. Once a photograph is fixed, it is essentially dead. It can no longer grow. It contains no new possibilities. It is an ending. Then, time will instantly begin to work towards eradicating the photograph and provide a death to an already dead potentiality.
Joel Peter Witkin
A Fleeting Moment
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
The hand, pencil, and paint were at one time our only way to counter the faults of our memory. Since the invention of photography we not only can beat our memories lapses, but we can partake in other people's memories. Those fleeting moments of love, triumph, and tranquility are no longer destined to slip into the ether. The human experience is memorialized in the photograph.
“It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down....”
Billions of people across the planet point a camera at a subject and record it. The sum of these seemingly infinite number of photographs could be stitched together to create a more vibrant, more powerful, and more tangible record of the history of our planet than any other medium. Photography has an inherent ability, or perhaps responsibility, to record the past, understand the present, and create the future.
Cristina Garcia Rodero