Saturday, June 19, 2010

Studio practice workbook 3.

Port Chalmers

The ‘moment’ is a usefully vague measurement of time. It is used to represent an unspecified short period of time. Perhaps it represents a period of no-time, when human time stops long enough to comprehend something happening. “I was thinking of something else for a moment”, one might say. Something that happens at a speed faster than can be grasped such as the ‘click’ of a camera shutter opening and closing can occur within a moment. An experienced photographer listening to the click might tell you accurately the length of time the shutter was open but for most this would be a mere technicality. A moment is a subjective measurement. If the four and a half billion years of earth’s existence was not experienced on human terms, can we say that it passed in a moment?

Solargraphy is evidence of a photographic moment that extends beyond normal conventions. Each clear day adds another growth ring to the concentric series of arcs marking the sun’s path. A season or two or three will fill the sky with these luminous intermittent bands. For us the time period that is covered might include hundreds of mundane work days, unexpected life changing events, long awaited news but for the camera it might as well be a click. That moment, fixed as an image on paper, is a view outside of the limits of our perception of time.

Careys Bay

Cameras are machines that extend our perception into realms that were not previously accessible. Muybridge’s images froze human and animal movement and allowed for the first time detailed analysis of such things as the mechanics of a horses gait when trotting or galloping. Harold Edgerton’s 1964 photograph “Shooting an apple” surprisingly shows apple matter exploding from both entry and exit directions. So familiar that they become clichéd are the long-exposure photographs of the light trails left by cars at night or else the circular trails of stars as the night sky rotates around the pole. Solargraphy takes long exposure technique to a new extreme so that the photographic moment takes place over months. The viewer can enter this extended moment and perceive the world in these terms.

View of Goat and Quarantine Islands

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This work by Chris Reid is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License.