It started by accident. Like so many other things, serendipity stepped in, and nudged a course correction.
Some argue that because it can capture motion the moving picture is more reflective of real life, while the still photograph is an abstraction, an instant frozen in time, and thus may be a more mental experience as it allows one time to examine and reflect on a specific moment.
I had paused the TV and when I looked I saw a most humorous expression on the announcer’s face. An image extracted from the flow and now frozen in time. Submerged in the stream of 24 frames per second, it was imperceptible. It was also an unintended view; an expression completely tangential of the context, one suggesting a contemplation of something warm and pleasant; a bath perhaps, rather than the political discourse underway. This frozen instant, now held forever in the photograph, that could be examined and reflected upon. Did this image capture what was really going on? Was it the real truth or was it simply a decontextualised frame from a different truth expressed more correctly and completely in the stream. Yet they were so different: how could the two co-exist?
- the still image vs. moving
- the moving image more closely aligns with “life”
- the still image allows for reflection, deeper analysis of a subject; punctum (seeing the details)
- physical (printed photograph) vs. ephemeral (projected film)
- some position the photograph as a more intellectual experience
- The extracted frame (from the moving picture)
- The extracted frame’s relationship to the truth:
- ethics of extraction to advance an agenda
- weaker or stronger than a photograph
- Appropriating a news stream into an artwork; stream to still
- Technology: Communications (Cable); moving pictures (TV stream); live events transmitted around the world; image capture via iPhone
- The lawlessness of the administration
- The injection of political views in the most mundane situations
- The injection of commercialism (advertising)
- While both still photographs and films are contrived to some degree, is this less true for a frame extracted from the stream?
The frame extracted from a film appears to be like a photograph, but there is a difference:
- photographs themselves are often contrived and staged; is this true for a single image extracted out of the stream? The film itself is staged, but individual images might be are a little further removed. 1. This plays on the complex relationship between the photographic image and truth
- “Photography as a tool to freeze and capture what cannot be seen; cinema simple captures what can be seen.” P.22, 3 “As the cinematic experience is so ephemeral, it has always been difficult to hold on to its precious moments…” p.151, 2
- “Photography has always had its own complex engagement with time and movement. Think of the decisive moment.” P.18, 2
- As the TV image streams by, much can be lost. By freezing it we have a change to see all that is there, to reflect on it and may be to appreciate some of the complexity captured in the instant.
- We have time to see the co-incidence; the punctum lost when the images stream by at 29 frames per second.
- While the images may be “less contrived” as they are extracted frames, I have contrived to select to advance an agenda.
In his book review of Stillness and Time: Photography and the Moving Image, photographer Guy Lane observes that most still images are contrived, either through set up or posture by the subject, an image extracted from the stream of movie going pictures is unrehearsed, lacks the same artifice. (assuming the moving picture is “real”)
(1) Review: Stillness and Time: Photography and the Moving Image
Guy Lane. 2007. Book Review STILLNESS AND TIME: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE MOVING IMAGE, Edited by David Green and Joanna Lowry. Journal Compilation, Volume 14, Issue 3 August 2007
- unlike the still image, a snapshot, portrait, etc. a still extracted from the stream of movie going pictures is unrehearsed, lacks the same artifice (assuming the moving picture is “real”)
(2) Green, David; Lowry, Joanna (eds.) – Stillness and Time. Photography and the Moving Image
- By stopping the “stream” we stop time. [so we can look at it and look at the details]
- Since the freeze-frame is actual stasis, and not merely its representation, its appearance on the screen is a moment of hiatus, not only in the temporal momentum of the film’s narrative bul also, potentially in the illusion of reality to which it is bound. The freeze-frame, argues Stewart, allows the possibility of cinematic reflexivity; although interestingly this is achieved through something that might be deemed not to belong to the medium of film and one that may take us outside of the film. p.19
- When we watch television, we have the impression that something is happening only once: this is not going to happen again, we think, it is ‘living, ‘live, realtime, where as we also know, on the other hand, it is being produced by the strongest, the most sophisticated repetition machines.” p.25 [and moreover, we have recorders that can stop the stream, save it, replay it, …]
- As the cinematic experience is so ephemeral, it has always been difficult to hold on to its precious moments, images and most particularly, its idols. In response to this problem, the film industry produced, from the very earliest moments of fandom, a panoply of still images that could supplement the movie itself: production stills, posters, and above all, pin-ups. p.151
(3) Campany, David. 2012. Photography and Cinema. Reaktion Press, London.
- Photography has always had its own complex engagement with time and movement. Think of the decisive moment. P.18 [in other words, how do you see a decisive moment in a film? or in a captured still one can find and then highlight the decisive moment] …. Photography provides visual clarity and narrative stillness p.19
- Photography as a tool to freeze and capture what cannot be seen; cinema simple captures what can be seen. P.22
(4) Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places, Larry Fink
- The observation of the “Angel” tattoo highlights the power of co-incidence in the image; or as Barthes might say “punctum”
It started by accident. Like so many other things, serendipity stepped in, and nudged a course correction. Some argue that because it can capture motion the moving picture is more reflective of real life, while the still photograph is an abstraction, an instant frozen in time, and thus may be a more mental experience as…
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