Thursday, 8 July 2010

Taking Pictures - Spaces

Pictures are mostly taken as a sort of memory aid, and as the action describes it 'taken' suggests it menas to pocket something, owning it and bringing it home. We have learned to relate to images and use them efficiently as triggers for memories, to tell stories and evoke associations. Further more they have grown in to the culture in a sense that photographs reveil our identity and tell as much about us as they do tell about the culture we belong to. They are a lot more than a colourful paper or a bunch of pixels. Beside the identity and cultural value especially fascinating are the aspects of time and space. Clearly and with this tool aspects of subjective and/or social time can be comfortably visualised. in an earlier post on time I sort of struggled to relate the multitude of times to the work in spatial analysis, simply because there is no tradition of incorporating anything other than Newtons one dimensional, directed arrow. The multitude of times however seems perfectly well fited for the subject of Photographs.
Sandra Abegglen over at everydayClick and a researcher at Goldsmith working with photographs states: "In brief, family portraits (and also other photographs) are only partly about the visual, because they contain a lot more information. They are (time) documents. They show how it was, how it is and how it can be in the future. As Barthes (1984:96) states, ‘...the photograph tells me the death in the future’."
How time distorts as we look at photographs from our childhood is a familiar experience even though few will have actively reflected on it. We can see ourselves at multiple different Birthdays of ourselves and flip through the years see oneself grow up and from the past right to the resent and straight trough to the further and the next birthday the photographs narrate it perfectly.
Spatially a similar mental process is involved. The image shows only a fraction of the real context of the scene. And still we can construct the spatial dimension, lift the elements up from the flat paper and extend the scenery. Old places become familiar again, the scene comes to live. Interestingly the recognition of places works well as a visualisation for the passage of time and in this sense the spatial dimension of photographs is very closely tied to the temporal dimension. Almost as if the time we extract from the photograph helps to build up the spatial dimension.
The spatiality of the final photograph is embedded in the spatial activity of actually taking the image. We stand back, align the perspective and compose the shapes and characters in the frame, what for the perfect lighting to enter the scene and click, click, click.

Video found via Timo Arnall's Research Blog

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