Photography seemed to me, as I stood there in the white gallery with its rows of pictures and its press of murmuring spectators, an uncanny art like no other. One moment, in all of history, was captured, but the moments before and after it disappeared into the onrush of time; only that selected moment itself was privileged, saved, for no other reason that its having been picked out by the camera’s eye.
from Open City by Teju Cole
That quote was preceded by the description of this photo (I found the image here) from 1930, by Martin Munkacsi, and the statement that Henri Cartier-Bresson had developed the ideal of the decisive moment from seeing that image.
That is a beautiful statement and certainly true for any photograph involving some kind of movement, especially by people or animals. Perhaps I prefer landscape photography for the very reason that it can have a more timeless quality. I do like to take photographs that don’t look like anything would happen before or after the image was taken. Such a landscape photograph has a different quality, absent of the onrush of time, absent of the obvious decisive moment.
I imagine everyone has had the experience of walking in the woods or across a vast field or beach, and thinking that, because of the absence of anything that could date what we saw, time might suddenly change and thus, when we returned from that scene, we would find ourselves in a different time period. In the past or perhaps in the future. I remember thinking that when I was a kid and, truth be told, the thought has also occurred to me many times as an adult.
(((Last night I watched the excellent film Faces Places, on Kanopy of course, and Agnes Varda and JR traveled to the small graveyard where Cartier-Bresson was buried. Always interesting when a name comes up more than once within a day.)))
PS: My preference of landscapes photography does not mean I don’t love Muncascsi or Cartier-Bresson. In fact I think their work is awesome. It’s just not something I can do or am drawn to.
Do you know about Kanopy? If you are a member of a public library it is possible that you can access a lot of great movies on Kanopy – for free. The Santa Fe Public Library enables me to watch five movies per month and it’s indeed a very nice collection of films. If you are interested in international or indie movies you might find that Kanopy has more of them than the usual streaming services you have to pay for.
Just last week I watched My Old Lady (Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Kevin Kline) and Found Memories. I enjoyed both movies a lot. The former reminded me of a stage play – and when I checked it was indeed written and directed by a playwright – and the latter was a beautiful Brazilian movie about a secluded village of elderly people into which a young photographer enters. The film features some of the beautiful photos the photographer takes with some kind of portable camera obscura. Madalena, one of the villagers, teaches the photographer how to make the daily bread for the village by the light of an oil lamp. Photography and bread! It was like the movie was made for me. No guitar though…
My two-week trial period of Glass ends tomorrow. I don’t think I will continue with it. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. I just don’t love it. Glass seems nice to look at and safe to use, but I am not clicking with it. There is no search for subjects or a way to tag a photo. Most people display the EXIF code of their images. That data will be useful to some people, but it never interested me. I don’t care what kind of camera somebody uses or which lens and settings. So, I started thinking about WHAT would make a social media app great, especially one that’s enables media sharing – mainly photography but also text, video, gif, and audio.
There are only two ways to make such a site work: one can mine data and sell ads (the ad agencies are the customers) OR the user has to pay for a subscription (the users are the customer). Could there be a third option? Could the case be made that like the postal service there should be a national social media service? Funding could come from “simple ads” – meaning ads that don’t rely on mining personal information – like old fashioned TV ads that were the same for everyone. That might bring in enough money to fund the service since there would not be shareholders and CEOs who would expect billions in annual revenue.
Once the funding is figured out (one of the above three options or can you think of a fourth?) what do we want the service to look like? Feel free to say like Twitter, but… or like Instagram, but…
How should one allow people to freely express themselves WITHOUT at the same time enabling entities to create bots to influence minds? Should there be a way to make anonymous posts? How?
PS: I am not going back to Zuck’s Instagram. No way. I can share text and images on this website right here, especially after some renovations. :-)
I just listened to this podcast and really enjoyed it. Michael Pollan was interviewed by Kara Swisher for Sway. About 40′.
I remember reading Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and wondering about the protagonist and his young son both drinking ale for breakfast and throughout the day. I did a little searching and discovered that ale or beer was simply safer to drink than most water sources and imagined that people likely had a small buzz on all day, every day. I wondered how many men fell to their death while building cathedrals because they had one cup to many.
No wonder then that the arrival in Europe of coffee, tea, and chocolate in the 17th century brought about so many changes. Voltaire supposedly drank more than forty cups a day. Weak coffee? Tiny cups?
The Pfizer vaccine will be marketed as “Comirnaty”, while Moderna has secured “Spikevax” for their vaccine.
I think Moderna wins the naming round.
What would be a better name? VitaVax? Or perhaps something tongue in cheek, like “Gates-Vaccine” or “5Gvax” or “Bovine-Deworming-Shot”?