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Time Expanded Bleda y Rosa Tacita Dean Roman Signer Harold Edgerton Jeff Wall Óscar Muñoz Collier Schorr Helen Levitt Moholy-Nagy Hiroshi Sugimoto Henry Fox Talbot Sánchez Castillo Michael Snow David Claerbout Chris Marker Jem Southam Adriana Lestido Jean-Luc Godard Jochen Lempert Alvin Baltrop


Titles at PHEBooks - Time Expanded - Descubrimientos 2010


Time Expanded Bleda y Rosa Tacita Dean Roman Signer Harold Edgerton Jeff Wall Óscar Muñoz Collier Schorr Helen Levitt Moholy-Nagy Hiroshi Sugimoto Henry Fox Talbot Sánchez Castillo Michael Snow David Claerbout Chris Marker Jem Southam Adriana Lestido Jean-Luc Godard Jochen Lempert Alvin Baltrop

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Time Expanded Sérgio Mah

p. 13

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The Image: A Monster Of Time Eduardo Cadava

p. 27

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The Shutter’s Suspension of Time: Toward a Democritean Theory of Photography Ulrich Baer

p. 43

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Real Time: Instantaneity and the Photographic Imaginary Mary Ann Doane

p. 61

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The Index and the Uncanny: Life and Death in the Photograph Laura Mulvey

p. 89

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The Film Stilled Raymond Bellour

p. 109

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Delay. Notes on photography as non-representational thinking Damian Sutton

p. 145

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László Moholy-Nagy What Do We See When We Look? Oliva María Rubio

p. 161

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Two Sketches for Helen Levitt Jorge Ribalta

p. 173

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Memories of Forgetting José Gómez Isla

p. 187

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Prophecies Rafael Levenfeld

p. 205

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Discovery of the Infinite María A. Iovino M.

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The Time Agent Santiago Olmo

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Dossier Trasatlántica The Politics of Time in the Contemporary Photography of Maruch Sántiz Gómez Christopher Fraga Wiley

p. 245

Moments or Instants. Widening the Parameters of Photographic Language María Wills Londoño

p. 252

A Year Later The Gay Che in Chile 100 miradas Rita Ferrer

p. 260

Softening the Archive: Photography, Collections and Classification Systems in the Work of Carla Herrera-Prats Irving Domínguez

p. 267

Photographs of a Journey in Time to Tierra del Fuego Inés Yujnovsky

p. 277

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Sérgio Mah Eduardo Cadava Ulrich Baer Mary Ann Doanne Laura Mulvey Raymond Bellour Damian Sutton Oliva María Rubio Jorge Ribalta José Gómez Isla Rafael Levenfeld María A. Iovino M. Santiago Olmo

< Collier Schorr. Arrangement nr. 20 (Shadow), 2008 Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York, and Modern Art, London © Collier Schorr

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Hiroshi Sugimoto. Tri City Drive-In, San Bernardino, 1993 Courtesy of Gallery Koyanagi Š Hiroshi Sugimoto

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Collier Schorr. Haywagon, 2009 Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York, and Modern Art, London Š Collier Schorr

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Harold Edgerton. Bullet through Balloons, 1959 Courtesy of Palm Press Inc. Š Harold & Esther Edgerton Foundation, 2010

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Roman Signer. Arc, 1978 (Super 8 Film still) Š Roman Signer

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Roman Signer. Writing 1-2-3, 1982 (Super 8 Film still) Š Roman Signer

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Time Expanded Sérgio Mah

1 We tend to understand time not only as a dimension that allows events to be placed in sequence and intervals and comparisons between moments and durations to be minutely described, but also as a system of measurement that allows the movement of things to be calibrated and quantified. In parallel, we recognise that objects and images have temporal characteristics: they emerge from a given time and are perceived and used in certain historical circumstances. However, some objects and images seem to have extraordinary qualities; they stir up a perceptive intelligibility that oversteps its chronological marker, as if they were giving rise to a dialectic of temporalities and practices. This is how we recognise one of the distinguishing conditions of works of art. Questions regarding images of time and, correlatively, the times of images, have acquired a particular prevalence since the invention of photography, or, more broadly speaking, since mechanically reproduced art has come to have a decisive influence on the course of modern culture. It is within this context that, since the nineteenth century, it has been recognised that photography makes possible a singular and paradoxical relationship in the perception and experience of time. Firstly, because the photographic image is ontologically bound to an instant of time; it is tied to a specific act of dating, the moment (and the space) in which the image was conceived in physical contiguity with its referent. As a trace or a sign that has been generated from something necessarily real, the origin of each photograph always includes the “here and now” of its gestation; we can never forget that, whether in a more spontaneous or a more calculated manner, the photographic act was an event — it simply happened. In effect, the identity of the photograph has a lot to do with the expectation (or anxiety) stemming from the fact that the image has recorded time and allows time to be located, recognised, and archived. The truth is that since the invention of photography, the visual technologies have always fed (or fed themselves on) that modern utopia in which time is dominated and fi nitude is outlined as a way of prefiguring a sublime ambition: the temporalisation of eternity, which would eventually make it possible to gain genuine control over

Sérgio Mah is the curator general of PHotoEspaña and a professor in the School of Social and Human Sciences in the University of Nova Lisboa. —

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death. In fact, it was also in the name of this control that photography was effectively invented and then used. We are currently living in historical conditions in which the values of mobility, instantaneity, and simultaneity define a significant part of our modes and styles of living, which are ever more formatted by the rhythm of technological mediations. Like a prisoner in a panoptic building that incorporates the gaze of the warden, we are also persistently impelled to internalise the metre of the clock and the calendar. The devices impose an absolute temporal territorialisation; everything is situated and arranged in a chronometric system. Beyond this obsession with the act of archiving, and communicational voracity through the internet or mobile phones, or through television or more conventional systems, we are constantly confronted with a complex web of layers of times, in an infinite overlapping and an irresolvable confusion of rhythms and movements and, as a result, semantic variations. On the other hand, the phenomenon of globalisation has also revealed a world ensnared in different stages of time — civilizational, cultural, psychosocial, spiritual — like an infinite and intricate network of different modes and styles of perceiving and constructing time. We live in a social and media landscape in which the conditions and expectations of modernity in the sense of the rationalization of time have radically intensified. In effect, the urgency of time has been one of the decisive traits of the modern project, an impulse which has been consolidated in the desire to simultaneously reify, standardise, and measure time; as Mary Ann Doane states, “the desire to analyse and to rationalize time was frequently embodied as a desire to make time visualizable”.1 As is well known, photography and, later, cinema have played a central role in this visual and conceptual yearning. Consequently, since its origins, photography has quickly been incorporated into functional domains which were aimed precisely at the possibility of realising an inventorial and chronological understanding of reality. One of the paths of this privilege has certainly been secured by its ability to document and archive the signs of modern progress. In other words, as a means of representation destined to affi rm the stages of historical movement — urban transformation, the new industrial landscape, territorial expansion: in short, the “advances” of the new world. It was precisely this historiographical vocation that so interested an author like Walter Benjamin, who went as far as to propose the existence of an essential convergence between the conceptualisation of history and photographic reproduction, to the extent that both aim to fi x, condense, and frame relations and events that are linked to a particular spatio-temporal reality. As Eduardo Cadava notes, “the degree to which each memory and thought might pertain to the possibility of repetition, reproduction, quotation, and inscription, determines its

1. Doane, Mary Ann. The Emergence of Cinematic Time. Modernity, Contingency, The Archive. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2002, p. 6.

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relationship with photography. Like a camera that seeks to fi x a moment in history, thought seeks to transport history to the domain of concepts”.2 In this context, Benjamin values photography as a model by which the performance of spatial, social and political phenomena is made intelligible, and as a medium that is exceptional at capturing the visible changes of the world by means of the interruption effect that characterises photography, namely, the ability to retain and immobilise movement, to isolate a detail, to highlight an event in the course of history. But what is particularly important and “revolutionary” for Benjamin is the fact that photography’s reproductive ability supplies us with a dialectical analysis of history. Because photography’s cutting effect tends to entangle history in the sphere of speculation, because it suspends and short-circuits the temporal continuity between the past and the present, and because it blocks the present in such a way as to subject it to historical re-examination, creating the possibility of another way of understanding and criticising history. Another absolutely exemplary and paradigmatic case in the representation of time is that of chronophotographic inquiries, in their dual function of capturing and demonstrating the discontinuity and the continuity of movement. Even before this technique foreshadowed the cinema, what was really in question was a decisive epistemological transition concerning the intelligibility of movement, which, as Gilles Deleuze highlighted, was restored no longer through idealised and transcendental instants but rather through the reproduction of any instant. In other words, through the increasingly sensitive apprehension of the contingent, the ephemeral, and the aleatory: the unpredictability of gestures themselves. As is well known, chronophotography was much more than a mere scientific project, particularly if we consider the effect that it has had on artistic practices. In confirming the limitations of the abilities of our eyes, it encouraged the search for new perceptive horizons and the possibility of creating new links between the real and its possible aesthetic derivations. Hereabouts it was realised that, while on the one hand, photography and the cinema have made it possible to express the idea of a rational, homogenous and divisible time, on the other hand, they have been equally essential in configuring another, more intuitive and polymorphous time, a non-teleological time tied to another durée, in the sense stated by Henri Bergson. Therefore, far beyond the idea of representability, it has become possible for images to produce a time which is immanent in them, a heterogeneous, creative, and predominantly visual time, a speculative time that is sensitive to visual, phenomenological, and mental changes. In this way, through photography, time acquires a disconcerting and paradoxical character due to its indexical nature and its interrupting and freezing effect. Thus, in the same way as it declared itself

2. Cadava, Eduardo. Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1997, p. 18.

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through its ability to reproduce fractions of time, its distinctiveness arises from its ability to materialise itself in a representation which, in theory, is the antithesis of time itself, because nothing apparently moves and fluidity is absent. The photographic image is therefore indissociable from a peculiar process and reinforces a type of performativity that instantaneously and contingently cuts, immobilises, fi xes and divides up any flow. Note, however, that the notion of instant, being one of the foremost qualities of the “photographic”, is not a quality that is enclosed in the (stationary and unique) image, because it lends itself to prolongations and permanencies, particularly those which stem from what is considered to be an extremely creative possibility: the imaginary projection of the image. Consequently, photography causes us to face this dual meaning: on the one hand, it suspends movement, petrifying the real; and on the other hand, it reveals that immobility is a relative impossibility, because the instant is alive with time and motion of the sort that the eye and mind always experience whenever they are provoked by fixity. We can therefore say that there is an intelligibility (an intelligence) which only photography can give us, or that there is a way of experiencing and thinking that suggests a photographic consistency. Consequently, photography not only admits the representability of time but also facilitates the production of (its) time. However, its time is drawn out and meandering, because it does not attach itself to a single place and is potentially and endlessly full and empty of all possible times. It is in this respect that photography pushes us towards a type of consciousness, a unique form of being and perceiving the world, in the phenomenological sense. In photography, the production of time emanates from the discrepancy between the image and the represented. As a result, the time experienced by the spectator is far from being the same as that which is represented, which creates an impossible and illogical link between the “here and now” of the image and the ‘there long ago’ of the represented; as Thierry de Duve states, “now does not signify the present of action but the unreal power of re-presentation; in past times points to a past that is over but of which the present of action continues to be the imaginary vanishing point”.3 The technical nature of photography, be it analogue or digital, allows us to confirm that, as a practice, it is engaged with cutting actions and that every photographic image brings with it the sign of a disturbing interruption that constricts any continuity-based reasoning. This is the destiny (or the implausibility) of the photograph: an image that tends towards aphasia but which, at the same time, does not prevent (mental, fictional) movements from taking place that prevent the image from closing on itself and stopping again. In this way, despite the tendency to see it as evidence, the photographic image, in its unavoidable precariousness, refers to a temporality that can never be restricted

3. De Duve, Thierry. “Pose e Instantané, ou le paradoxe photographique”, in Sérgio Mah (ed.), A imagem-cesura. CML/Público, Lisboa, 2005, p. 32.

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to a testimonial relationship with the moment of the shot, to the extent that, as we all know, the time of the photograph favours multiple, discontinuous and incommensurable dimensions, like the various surfaces of a crystal, to use the analogy proposed by Gilles Deleuze. Within this sequence, photographic discontinuity has both fostered the corruption of objectified time and also acted as one of the principle means of corrupting it; because its fixity inevitably creates aesthetic and epistemological anxiety, it instigates a narrative and semantic silence that causes the image to be open and sensitive to all interpretative and psychological games and the vicissitudes of affections, desires, and traumas. This void, in which thought and the imagination become entangled, is a place of sighs and unintentional wanderings. Its ontological specificity, as well as its predisposition for the contingent, is what effectively causes photography to deviate from conventional systems of meaning, in which the punctum is only one of the ways of naming the irrational and unexpected way in which we tend to experience the photographic image. The question of contingency is particularly relevant here because it means recognising photography’s openness to an uncertain, free, reflexive, and projective reception, because behind every image it is possible that other images, other themes, other spaces, and other times may come. We can then understand that the photographic image, despite its precarious nature — as a minimal, but not minor, image — possesses an immense potential, because it places us on the threshold of a new way of organising memory and knowledge and in the presence of the perspicacity of a work of the imagination. *** In this context, PHotoEspaña 2010 aims to bring together a diverse group of artists who, having different technical, aesthetic and conceptual leanings, deal with the experience of time in its various meanings and visual forms. Works created in the media of photography, video, cinema, and installation predominate, making up an extended and paradigmatic spectrum of visual practices. The works have been chosen according to criteria that were subsumed to various types of questions: the nature and effects of photographic interruption and, in correlation, what this implies at the level of the perception of movement and the diagetic presumption of the image; works that favour the contingent, the ephemeral, and the aleatory as a way of highlighting the instability of the works and their temporal connotations; questions surrounding historical analysis and speculation, taking in archive-related practices as well as the experience of individual and collective, voluntary and involuntary memory; and, finally, the link between the photographic and other image-based practices, defining

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associations and temporal paradoxes, specifically between the static image and the image in motion. All of these possibilities and links are characteristic expressions of a contemporaneity that extracts part of its dynamism from the confusion and dilution of specificities, even when real distinctions between its technical and material characteristics still prevail. But this climate of proximities, hybridisations, and logical extensions does not prevent us from thinking about the existence of conditions peculiar to certain modes of visual production and reception. For all that, we continue to admit that photography is different from cinema and painting. Therefore, just as the cinematic and the pictorial have always been structuring categories in relation to photographic culture, it is necessary to recognise that the photographic might overstep the limits of photography itself, intruding into and contaminating painting, cinema, and video. We believe that it is important to resume and intensify this reflection when photography is currently going through a process of technological excess: not only are conventional techniques gradually being moved almost into the sphere of craftwork but the new devices of the image have, in correlation, also unleashed new technical, aesthetic and epistemological opportunities. But, for all that, it is necessary to analyse the consequences of these transitions in a way that is rooted not in a logic of cultural erosion and replacement, but as a way of highlighting a new horizon of abilities and opportunities, in which can be glimpsed a new taxonomy of images as well as new trajectories and combinations between visual devices and practices. For example, it is particularly symptomatic that the broadening of possibilities available in the area of image post-production is not, in many cases, intensifying the persistent obsession with the truth of representation as much as it is bringing the photographic closer to the cinematic, the theatrical, the pictorial, and the literary, as categories that are strongly connected with poetic, ‘artistic’, and fictional expression, with the value of the indeterminate in the works and the appeal to reflexivity serving as legitimate (and necessary) ways and means of strengthening the possibilities of the image as a sign that conveys time as immersion. Within this sequence, a reformulation of the idea of truth in photography is being carried out; the question then arises of the extent to which all of the staging, all of the fiction, is naturally factitious and stimulated by a background of truth? Could it be that working on the appearance of reality is the path that is best suited to highlighting the reality of appearance? Therefore, approaching the qualities of the photographic today in a more open way (in the sense of a wide-ranging photology) also involves outlining a disciplinary perspective determined by the exclusivity of certain procedures and technical devices used in the production of images. In this respect, we must increasingly recognise that the photographic, as a perceptive and experiential category,

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extends through various image-based genres and practices and connects, above all, to a domain of visuality linked to an extraordinarily unique type of image: an image which has great potential for depicting reality, and which compresses the perception of time and space to a fixed unit, constituting an imagery of discontinuous instants. In this way, mobilising the imaginary projection is a way of engendering a prolonged experience of time, not as something that is necessarily sequential and continuous, but as a profoundly heterogeneous dimension that is simultaneously individual and collective, concrete and abstract, retrospective and prospective, prefiguring what could be called a Proustian vocation of the image. In short, the thematic programme of PHotoEspaña 2010 is taking as its base the theoretical and narrative paradoxes of photography in order to delimit a propitious space for temporal intuitions, idiosyncrasies and drifts that allude to the phenomenological, empirical, political, physiological, and fictional. In this terrain of interstices, the aim is to intensify perception through an attentive and reflexive experience of the image. In some way, what is prefigured is what Raymond Bellour has called the urgency of the pensive spectator,4 who, unlike the hurried, disinterested and distracted spectator, seeks an empathetic relationship with the image. Also as a way of helping us to understand why, over the past two centuries, photography has become the domain of the unique image, thereby requiring a type of attention that cannot evade the potentialities inherent in being precisely one image, providing what Roland Barthes described as “the impossible science of the unique being”.

4. Bellour, Raymond. L’Entre-Images. La Différence, Paris, 2002.

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Jochen Lempert. Cro-Magnon, 2006 Courtesy of ProjecteSD, Barcelona Š Jochen Lempert

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Jochen Lempert. Cro-Magnon, 2006 Courtesy of ProjecteSD, Barcelona Š Jochen Lempert

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Jem Southam. Brampford, 1997. Speke © Jem Southam

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Jem Southam. Brampford, 1997. Speke © Jem Southam

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Collier Schorr. Eagle 3 Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York, and Modern Art, London Š Collier Schorr

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Fernando Sánchez Castillo. La Vanguardia, 2010 Courtesy of Fernando Sánchez Castillo & Galería Juana de Aizpuru © Fernando Sánchez Castillo

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The Image: A Monster Of Time Eduardo Cadava

2 How can we speak about the relation between time and images? In what way can time be represented within an image? Is it possible for time to be shown, even when time, and the image that seeks to show it, can never be entirely present, either to itself or to us? Is there an image of time, an imaging of time, through which time can show itself, even if it shows itself as never simply itself? What would it mean to read images historically — in relation to time in general and to the particular time or times that are sealed within their surfaces? These are the questions at the heart of this exhibition, and of the works that are included in it. In each instance, the artist or photographer engages in his or her own way the relations among light and darkness, memory and forgetting, history and the archive, life and death, survival and destruction, sight and blindness — all of which are woven into the thread that inscribes time into the image. What is at stake in viewing this exhibition, therefore, is the possibility of reading time in the image. As Walter Benjamin explains in a note from “Konvolut N” of his Passagen-Werk, to say that images are marked historically does not mean that they “belong to a specific time” — the time of the camera's click, for example — but that they only “enter into legibility [Lesbarkeit] at a specific time.” “This 'entering into legibility´,”” he goes on to say: “(…) constitutes a specific critical point of the movement inside them. Every present is determined by those images that are synchronic with it: every Now is the Now of a specific recognizability [Erkennbarkeit]. In it, truth is loaded to the bursting point with time. (This point of explosion, and nothing else, is the death of the intentio, which accordingly coincides with the birth of authentic historical time, the time of truth.) It is not that the past casts its light on the present or that the present casts its light on the past; rather, an image is that in which the Then [das Gewesene] and the Now [das Jetzt] come together into a constellation like a flash of lightning. In other words, an image is dialectics at a standstill. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of the Then to the Now is dialectical: not temporal in nature but imagistic. Only dialectical images are genuinely historical — that is, not archaic-images. The image that is read — which is to say, the image in the Now of its recognizability

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Eduardo Cadava teaches in the Department of English at Princeton University. He is the author of many writings and articles on contemporary art and photography. —

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— bears to the highest degree the imprint of the perilous critical moment on which all reading is founded.” For an image to be read, then (for it to “enter into legibility” in the “Now of its recognizability”), it must encounter a constellation of dangers, not the least of which is its own dissolution. The possibility of this dissolution, however, belongs to what makes an image an image, and, in particular, to what makes an image a genuinely historical image. It names, among so many other things (including the dissolution of the subjectivity that might wish to read the image), the movement at the image's interior, the dialectical transfer between the Then and the Now that, simultaneously composing and fissuring the image, occurs with what we might call “the flash of history.” If the historical index of an image — “the imprint of the perilous critical moment on which all reading is founded” — therefore signals the relation between an image and the time in which it can be read, it tells this time (the time that dates it, but a time that is not only the time in which it was produced) that it can be read “Now.” But this “Now,” composed, like the present, of all the images that are synchronic with it, is never simply “Now.” It is never separable from the “Then” that, coming together with it in a “constellation like a flash of lightning,” is before or beyond the time from which the image seems to emerge. This means that Benjamin's “Now” does not name a present, just as his “Then” cannot be reduced to the past. Moreover, since the present is constituted in relation to all the images that “Now” give it its signature — that come to it from elsewhere but also from other historical moments — it, too, can never be present. This is why the historical index of an image always claims the image for another time — for another historical moment (itself plural, and composed of several other moments) and for something other than linear, chronometric time (which would be, for Benjamin, “purely temporal” and “continuous”). This also is why Benjamin's understanding of the image's historical index cannot be understood as either indexical or referential: it can never index or refer to a single historical moment or event. As he puts it elsewhere, “in order for a part of the past to be touched by the present instant [Aktualität], there must be no continuity between them.” Confirming that the relationship between a past and a present is dialectical, in the strongest historical and imagistic sense, the index interrupts the presence of the image. It indicates that the image only exists in relation to a time that, signaling the explosion that marks both its birth and destruction, prevents it from ever being simply itself. Every effort to read the image therefore must expose it there where the image does not exist. It must displace it (make it standstill elsewhere), and this because, in the “Now” of the image's legibility, the truth of the image is, in the wording of Benjamin, “loaded to the bursting point with time.” It is because the traces carried by the image include reference to the past, the present, and the future, and in

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such a way that none of these can be isolated from the other, that the image cannot present the traces of the explosion it recalls — without at the same time exploding, or bursting, its capacity to (be) present. It is in this interruption and explosion of historical presentation that we engage the conditions of “authentic” historical understanding, an understanding that, offering us the truth of time, tells us that history is something to which we can never be present. Given the several histories and contexts sealed within the image — it is, as Benjamin would suggest, full of history and time — what could responding mean here? How can we respond to the experiences commemorated, displaced, and ciphered by this or that image? How can we give an account of the circumstances in which it was produced, or better, of those it names, codes, disguises, or dates on its surface? How can we respond to what is not presently visible, to what can never be seen directly within the image? To what extent does what is not seen traverse the image as the experience of the interruption of its surface? How, for example, are we to read the time that is sealed within the photographs that constitute Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Drive-In Theater series? As is well-known, Sugimoto made these photographs by exposing one piece of film to the light of a movie projector for the length of an entire film, with the result that the characters and scenes of the fi lm are all washed away, leaving behind only a glowing, blank white screen whose emptiness is actually full of light and time. This play between presence and absence also is legible in Michael Wesely’s Potsdam Platz series, in which he used up to two-year long exposures in order to document the construction taking place at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin between 1997 and 1999. As in Sugimoto’s photographs, in each instance the final image has sealed innumerable, overlapping moments onto its surface — and this surface, now appearing as a series of superimposed, ghostlike traces, evokes the simultaneous vanishing and emerging presence of the buildings that were demolished or constructed during the time of Wesely’s long exposures. In both instances, the photographs that are produced are “loaded to the bursting point with time”; they bring together the “Then” and the “Now” into a constellation of traces that prevent the image from remaining linked to a particular or singular moment in time — and precisely because it is saturated by time, by time that is simultaneously visible and invisible, even visible in its invisibility, in the traces that its passing has left behind. What these two photographic projects also tell us is that images are traversed by finitude: they are not simply premonitions of death (of the death that comes with every photograph), but a kind or type of death. In these photographs, light is itself a kind of death, even as death is perhaps what makes light possible, or at least legible. Everything that follows from this suggests that the experience of loss, the anticipation

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of death, enables each photograph to probe the conditions and consequences of perception. But what exactly are loss and death? This is the question that all photographs ask us to engage (and indeed that all technical media ask us to engage) and it can be posed at each step of these photographic projects, and not only these, since the world that Sugimoto and Wesely photograph no longer exists, and already, even as they were photographing it, it was in the process of changing and disappearing. This is why these photographs recall the traces and specificity of a particular moment, even as they inevitably mark the disappearance, loss, and ruin of this same moment. Indeed, the strength of these images lies in their insistence that things pass, that they change and alter. The very law that motivates and marks these photographs is this law of change and transformation. Indeed, the artists and photographers in this exhibition all know that everything passes, and this is why their works involve as much the production as the recording of images, as much a performative event as a passive archivization. These are works therefore that tell us what is true of every image: that it bears witness to the enigmatic relation between death and survival, loss and life, destruction and preservation, mourning and memory. They tell us, if they can tell us anything at all, that what dies, is lost, and mourned within the image — even as it survives, lives on, and struggles to exist — is the image itself. As with Sugimoto and Wesely’s images, these works also are full of time — whether they incorporate and erase images they fi nd elsewhere, and especially within the history of the technical media in general (as in Paul Pfeiffer’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or in Steven Pippin’s Horse and Rider), whether they take their point of departure from other media, such as literature and cinema (as in Clare Strand’s Signs of A Struggle or in Tacita Dean’s The Russian Ending), or whether they begin in relation to historical and philosophical works from another era (as in Iñaki Bonillas’ No longer, not yet or in Joachim Koester’s Kant Walks). These mediatic works bring together the “Then” and the “Now” into a constellation of traces that keep the image from ever remaining contemporaneous to itself — and precisely because they show themselves to be less an image (or series of images) than an archive (or a series of archives), none of which are ever one, and none of which can be entirely legible. If the structure of the image is defi ned as what remains inaccessible to visualization, this withholding and withdrawing structure prevents us from experiencing the image in its entirety, or, to be more precise, encourages us to recognize that the image, bearing as it always does several memories at once, is never closed. If the image evokes a moment of crisis and destruction, then, part of what is placed in crisis is the finitude of the context within which we might read it. This is why, when we respond to a photograph by trying

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to establish only the historical contexts in which it was produced, we risk forgetting the disappearance of context — the essential decontextualization — that is staged by every photograph. The moment in the image appears suspended and torn from any particular historical moment — past, present, or future. As Benjamin explains in his early essay on the Trauerspiel and tragedy, “the time of history is infinite in every direction and unfulfilled at every moment. This means we cannot conceive of a single empirical event that bears a necessary relation to the time of its occurrence. For empirical events, time is nothing but a form, but, what is more important, as a form it is unfulfi lled. This means that no single empirical event is conceivable that would have a necessary connection to the temporal situation in which it occurs.” Time tells us that the event can never be entirely circumscribed or delimited. This is why the effort to determine and impose a meaning on the event recorded in this photograph, to stabilize the determination of its context — an act that involves reading what is not visible within the image — involves both violence and repression. This is also why whatever violence there is in the attempt to establish the context of this image remains linked, because of this repression, to an essential nonviolence. It is in this highly unstable and dangerous relationship between violence and nonviolence that responsibilities form, responsibilities that have everything to do with how we read this or that image. As we have seen, Benjamin refers to the violence or nonviolence of reading when he claims that “the image that is read — which is to say, the image in the Now of its recognizability — bears to the highest degree the imprint of the perilous critical moment on which all reading is founded.” Suggesting that there can be no reading of an image that does not expose us to a danger — because such a reading would only demonstrate, if it could demonstrate anything, the noncontemporaneity of the present, the absence of linearity in the representation of historical time, and therefore the fugacity of the past and the present — he warns us of the danger of believing that we have seen or understood an image. This is why we might say that to read means: being exposed to time and images. But if the reading of images draws us to the necessity of the disappearance into which they withdraw and from which they emerge — as Benjamin tells us elsewhere, “what we know we will soon no longer have before us — this is what becomes an image” — it is because images themselves refer to time. Roland Barthes reinforces this point when, in his Camera Lucida, he suggests that, if “the photograph possesses an evidential force,” its testimony “bears not on the object but on time.” But what we call time is precisely the image's inability to coincide with itself. It demands that every image be an image of its own interruption — an image of the explosion of space and the erasure of time. Exposing the image to the movement of its disappearance or

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dissolution, it exposes it to ruin, to damage, to annihilation. A movement of alteration, it conveys the exposure — the interruption and breakdown — of the image and thereby prevents it from being merely this image or merely an image. This is why an image is never already constituted but is always in the process of its constitution. This also is why, simultaneously constructed and effaced, every image is a ruin. The space of ruin is itself exposed to the movement of ruin. The ruin stands in the image that stands in ruin: a mise-en-abyme, for which there are only ever further ruins of ruins. The ruin, the image of ruin, is therefore without image. It can never be presented. The ruin in the image is in fact the law that forbids its own presentation. The image presents an interruption of history and does so only by interrupting the principle of presentation. Or, to put it another way, the disintegration of presentation exposes a caesura, a ruin in the presentation of historical experience — a caesura and ruin that come with time “itself.” As Benjamin explains in his book on the German Trauerspiel, “In the ruin, history has materially distorted itself into the scene. And, figured in this manner, history does not assume the form of the promise of an eternal life so much as that of irresistible decay.” If ruin is at work in every image, this is because the ruin is not simply before the image, is not simply what makes the image an image; it is also what, in and with the image, is not the image and, in not being the image, allows the image to be what it is: an image in ruins. This ruin means that the image does not mean, does not designate anything — especially because it refers to time, to a time whose history is always a history of ruins. In the wording of Jacques Derrida, “the ruin does not supervene like an accident upon a monument that was intact only yesterday. In the beginning there is ruin. Ruin is that which happens to the image from the moment of the first gaze… [It] is not in front of us… It is experience itself: neither the abandoned yet still monumental fragment of a totality, nor, as Benjamin thought, simply a theme of baroque culture. It is precisely not a theme, for it ruins the time, the position, the presentation or representation of anything and everything.” This is to say that, if time ruins the image, this ruined image also interrupts the movement of time, in a manner that has, not the form of time, but rather the form of time's interruption, the form of a pause, of an explosion. This ruined image wounds the form of time. It suspends and deranges time. But since time — and all time — can be deranged in this way, time itself is perhaps a kind of madness. Like the image, it is never identical to itself. It can only be what it is by leaving itself, by abandoning itself. It is unrepresentable. Never something, never one thing, never this or that, it is what is never present. Nevertheless, as Kant reminds us, everything passes in time but time itself. Time repeats itself endlessly. It begins in repetition. But what is repeated in time is a movement of differentiation and dispersion — and what is

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differentiated and dispersed is time itself. There can be no passing moment that is not already both the past and the future: the moment must be simultaneously past, present, and future in order for it to pass at all. This is why what is repeated in time is what is never simply itself, what is incessantly vanishing. If time is a matter of repetition, it is a repetition only of its unrepeatability. This aporetic exposition of time and the image no longer allows for a linear, unbroken presentation of history. It presents itself as a repetition of the prohibition against images, a repetition that tells us that history can only emerge in the interruption of the continuum of presentation. This is why each of the works in this exhibition — and each in their “own” way — suggests that, without interrupting the historical continuum, without blasting the techniques of representation, there can be no historical time. No history without the interruption of history. No time without the interruption of time. No image without the interruption of the image. If, however, this interrupted image is still an image, then “image” means: the disaster of the image. It means that every image is an image of disaster — that the only image that could really be an image would be the one that shows its impossibility, its disappearance and destruction, its ruin. The image is only an image, in other words, when it is not one, when it says: “there is no image.” The image therefore does not demonstrate. No assertion about the image (and this means no “image of the image”) can show us the truth of the image. The image is rather a monster of time — in which time does not properly tell time. It is, in the wording of Werner Hamacher, a “monstruum without monstration”.

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Paul Pfeiffer. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (17), 2006 Courtesy of carlier | gebauer Š Paul Pfeiffer

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Paul Pfeiffer. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (8), 2002 Courtesy of carlier | gebauer Š Paul Pfeiffer

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Michael Snow. Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids), 2002 Š Michael Snow

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Michael Snow. Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids), 2002 Š Michael Snow

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Tacita Dean. Still Life, 2009 (Film still) Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery (Paris / New York), Frith Street Gallery (London) & Nicola Trussardi Foundation (Milano) Š Tacita Dean

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Roman Signer. Smoke Ring, 1983 (Super 8 Film still) Š Roman Signer

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Roman Signer. Smoke Ring, 1983 (Super 8 Film still) Š Roman Signer

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The Shutter’s Suspension of Time: Toward a Democritean Theory of Photography Ulrich Baer

3 From the instant in which photography was born, in 1838 or 1839 in an attic above the rooftops of Paris, the medium has been associated with death. The fi rst person to be captured in Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s revolutionary invention to capture light’s changes over time, a man having his boots shined on the Boulevard du Temple, is half obliterated from our view. At the moment when Daguerre captured the view from his window the man moved his upper body just a bit and was consequently out of focus, blurry, already half-gone. From that instant photography was understood as announcing our inevitable vanishing from life. The blurry man, all but forgotten in the medium’s meteoric rise to its contemporary prominence, foreshadowed over a century of critical thinking that linked photography to death. The critic Walter Benjamin, a 19th-century mind stranded in the 20th century and thus forced to address modernity’s concerns, was among the first to associate death with the medium of photography. He drew attention to the pictures taken by David Octavius Hill in the 1850s in a graveyard. To obtain images in focus at a moment when photographs still required long exposure times, photographers like Hill asked their subjects to lean against solid objects or kept them entirely from moving during the shoot with the aid of braces. This practice of immobilizing the living so that they could be photographed lasted for only a short time, until about 1860. But it captured the imagination of critics who considered this practice an indication of the true nature of photography. The camera’s shutter was considered a miniature guillotine that turned the living into corpses, sliced up time and snatched frozen moments from the inevitable passage of life. Thus Benjamin looked at a picture of Dauthendey and saw death where there was none yet to see: a photograph “from around the time of his wedding, seen with the wife whom one day shortly after the birth of their sixth child he found in the bedroom of his Moscow house with arteries slashed”.1 Walter Benjamin’s “Little History of Photography,” published in 1931 as a review essay of several histories of photography at a moment when the world hovered on the brink of catastrophe, is a source

Ulrich Baer is an associate professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University and the author of books on Rilke and on the photography of trauma. —

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1. Benjamin, Walter. “A Short History of Photography”, in Alan Trachtenberg, ed., Classic Essays on Photography. Leete’s Island Books, New Haven, 1980.

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for most of our contemporary melancholic readings of photography as a harbinger of inevitable death. Roland Barthes, Rosalind Kraus, Susan Sontag, and Eduardo Cadava, as Benjamin’s intellectual children, circle back to photography’s way of anticipating and highlighting the photographed subject’s inevitable passing before the actual event of his or her death. Every photograph, as Roland Barthes memorably put in Camera Lucida, bears testimony not on its subject but on time. When he looked at Alexander Gardner’s “Portrait of Lewis Payne” what he saw in the picture of the man who was still alive that “he is going to die”.2 And Eduardo Cadava in his profound meditation on the relation between photography and history insists “the survival of the photographed is… never only the survival of its life, but also of its death”. 3 The critics mentioned here rank among Benjamin’s strongest readers. But when Benjamin opened a window on to the essence of photography as referencing principally time itself rather than its visible subject matter or referents, he allowed for the possibility of an ending that is different from death. For Benjamin, photographs opened up time and revealed it to be empty and void of predetermined meanings. The photograph reveals time not as inevitably leading to death but as exposing our view to the empty moment of the present as radically open to transformation. When Benjamin’s most careful readers followed his insights into a vague “disastrous distance” of the kind detected by Benjamin in the eyes of the woman in one of Hill’s photographs, they underplayed this openness to transformation.4 Where Benjamin saw the opening of time as essentially unscripted, his readers’ gaze was as drawn to immobility, numbing eternity, or a implied or actual death. Benjamin could only guess at the ways in which photography structures our contemporary mode of seeing the world. His essays on photography and the media are concerned with the ways in which our points of view — both personal and political — have become increasingly mutable and relative. It is time to honor Benjamin’s legacy by adjusting our views to include the other dimension of photography’s time: its revelation of the photograph’s present as empty and yet boundlessly filled with possibility. From this recognition follows an understanding of photography’s inherently performative and spectactular nature: photographs reveal the moments of their creation to have been empty at their heart, and they insert themselves in this emptiness with the undying promise of another future. The man having his boots shined on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris under Daguerre’s window was not vanishing from view and thus from time and life. His blurry head and torso figure were being born into the future. In her seminal On Photography, Susan Sontag chastises photography because “The photographed world stands in the same, essentially inaccurate relation to the real world as stills do to movies. Life

2. Barthes, Roland.Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, tr. Richard Howard, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 1981, p. 96. 3. Cadava, Eduardo. Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1993, p. 13. 4. Benjamin, in Trachtenberg, 202 (translation modified; the original German is “unheilvoll” for disastrous).

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is not about significant details, illuminated by a flash, fi xed forever. Photographs are.”5 Sontag thought that life evolves as a movie, where episodic events are linked by time into experiences, patterns, and a greater whole. Our own imagined death, as Benjamin suggested in his essay The Storyteller, was the imagined event that proleptically bestowed coherence to this understanding of a person’s life as a continuous narrative. In order to make sense of our lives we look at life from the imagined (and impossible) vantage point of our death, as if casting a retrospective glance from a position that organizes our life’s disparate fragments into a greater whole. Photographs, in Susan Sontag’s view, did not allow for such retrospective ordering. They stubbornly refer to time as consisting of atomic particles swirling in a void, rather than presenting time as a continuous movie or river taking us inevitably toward our fi nal destination. But life, vexingly and also exhilaratingly, is about significant details. In fact, photographs afford us the rare opportunity to think of time from a vantage point that is otherwise unavailable to us, of disparate events and images rather than stories and historical flow. Broadly speaking we can distinguish between two kinds of disparate events to which we are exposed in life. They are similar in structure though radically different in their impact upon us. Both are explored in photography. First, there are events that do not register fully as coherent experiences but remain outside of our habitual ways of understanding, forever intruding into our life-stories in often disturbing, unsettling ways. Such traumatic, catastrophic and shocking events register frequently as insufficiently remembered images in our psyche: as unassimilated, stark snapshots from our past that we cannot place into our self-understanding without concomitant pain, or painful realignment of our sense of self. In exceptionally rare cases traumatic memories can return in the forms of mental flashbacks, which are essentially visual impressions from our past that have not been distorted and edited by our mind but survive inside of us as snapshots from the past. When traumatic memories were first studied systematically by Jean-Martin Charcot, Freud’s teacher in Paris and the first professor of neurology, the camera was used to diagnose patients suffering from traumatic flashbacks. But the photographs of these traumatized women did not readily lead to understanding; the pictures presented a kind of spectral evidence that most often found the women guilty of malingering and staging their pain. Barthes stressed the difficulty of turning photographs of trauma into knowledge: “The photograph is undialectical: it is a denatured theater where death cannot ‘be contemplated,’ reflected and interiorized.”6 Second, we are also pressed more deeply into life without readymade meaning through disparate and disconnected events that overwhelm us with joy, exuberance, and rapture, and lead to self-loss in

5. Sontag, Susan. On Photography. Penguin, London, 1977, p. 81. 6. Barthes, op. cit., p. 90.

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non-traumatic ways. There are moments of ecstasy, here understood by returning to the word’s Greek root-form ex-stasis, to stand beside or outside of oneself. These are moments where one feels outside of oneself without losing touch with but indeed by being more acutely aware of one’s situation in the present moment. Then there are instances when passion or joy transports us outside of ourselves but leaves us, unlike someone in a dream, or coma, or drug-induced hallucination, more firmly in the present moment. These moments may be brought to our awareness in the form of a visual impression, such as catching a glimpse of someone whose appearance explodes in us into a sudden burst of intense and unanticipated desire. Milan Kundera, a sage of the everyday, nicely captures the essence of such moments to which photography exposes us as much as it exposes us to our impending death: “Ecstasy is the absolute identity with the present instant, total forgetting of past and future. If we obliterate the future and the past, the present moment stands in empty space, outside life and its chronology, outside time and independent of it (this is why it can be likened to eternity, which too is the negation of time).”7 Photography explores this possibility of life being lived in an empty present that is “outside life and its chronology.” Photographs afford us the opportunity to think about such empty moments as time’s openness to transformation by various means. Some photographs make time their explicit subject matter by heightening the impression of slowed time, or of arrested time — think of the famous stop-action photographs of galloping horses by Eadweard Muybridge or Steven Pippin, Harold Edgerton’s famous image of an apple being shot through by a bullet, or Jeff Wall’s image of an angry young man spilling his milk from a container before a brick wall. Other images make time their subject matter by capturing decisive moments: Robert Capa’s photograph of a soldier in the Spanish Civil War at the moment of death, or news photographs of the first African-American child to enter a previously white high school in the American South. But even photographs that do not make time their subject matter are “surrounded,” as Siegfried Kracauer described this exposure of the photographed world to the possibility of transformation, “with a fringe of indistinct multiple meanings.”8 Photographs carve out a time within time (within lived time, within time-as-history, within meaningful time) — but this voided center is strangely timeless and has the potential to change both the past and the future that surround it. For once we can begin to think in and through this empty moment at the heart of photography; we think in a place where we are otherwise constantly fighting off the pressures of both past and future. Photographic images insist on the fortuitous, on endlessness, and on the indeterminate, as Kracauer stressed. By radically isolating moments from their context, photographs surrender this context to

7. Kundera, Milan. “Testaments Betrayed.” 8. Kracauer, Siegfried. “Photography,” in: Trachtenberg, op. cit, p. 265.

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interpretation instead of allowing it, by means of knowledge and hindsight, to delimit the photograph’s meaning. The context of a photograph is never entirely given but must always be rethought from within the empty moment that leads not only to death but to the potential for transformation. Thus photographs remind us of future possibilities that are not always contained by our knowledge of the picture’s context, the camera’s or computer’s technical program, or the photographer’s intentions. We still tend to think of certain images as isolating time into such fortuitous instance, in the spirit of CartierBresson’s definition of decisive moments where “the recognition of a fact” coincides with “the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express […] that fact.” But what if we turned the relation of photography and time on its head? What if we did not think of time as continuous, which is a philosophical conception but not a measurable nor experienced reality, but instead conceived of time as comprised of fleeting moments and suddenly erupting events? What if we thought of time as a product of our mental re-organization of such events into a pattern we call our life? And what if we thought of photography not as interrupting or freezing time but as teaching us how to think of time and our relation to it? For indeed photography is the medium that lets us see time itself for what it possibly is: a series of empty moments that we fill with significance retrospectively in order to integrate these moments into a continuous, unidirectional, linear time extending from the past to the future. Photography does not cause the world and time and reality to shatter and break into disparate components. This had been the assumption of critics for the first century of the medium’s existence who came up with the idea that the camera freezes time. The camera records what occurs and it does so only in bursts and explosions. The world when seen through photographs may be recognized as more Democritean rather than Heraclitean, as Vilém Flusser first suggested.9 Photography may therefore present a more accurate way of thinking of the relation between past and future, and of our position in this interval. What is more, photography may be the medium that inserts itself into this empty interval of the “in-between” past and future and teaches us that the future is never quite what we think it will be. The future, as every photograph reminds us, is pure potentiality. It is not the continuation of the past but it is a direct result of our situation of being inserted into time as the empty “in-between” of past and future. Walter Benjamin called this “in-between” that is captured in every photographic image the “spark of contingency,” or “Fünkchen Zufall… [of ] the indiscernible place in the condition of that long-past minute where the future is nesting, even today”.10 For experiences and photographs of trauma, this spark of contingency or momentary shock to our habitual ways of seeing, may never become be subsumed into

9. Flusser, Vilém. Towards a Philosophy of Photography, tr. Anthony Mathews, Reaktion, London: 2000, p. 9. 10. Benjamin in Trachtenberg, op. cit., p. 207.

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understanding. But all of photography harbors the potential for a different future because the photographed moment is empty. The image allows us to dwell in the photographic moment while being outside of time, the way we rarely are outside of time in our lives. So instead of reminding us tirelessly of our death as the one thing we can be certain of in our future, photographs expose us to the future as nothing more and nothing less than an openness to transformation. Photographs show time to be lived in the empty now that hovers between past and future but of which we rarely catch a glimpse. From this vantage point — the vantage point first articulated by Democritus who saw the world as a swirl of atoms in the void the future is not a given but something that results precisely from our existence in this in-between past and future that we call our “now.” Once the camera is understood to reveal the essence of time as empty in the moment between past and future, we can disband with the idea that photographs are frozen moments, and also with the notion that each photograph is ultimately a spectral crypt. Hannah Arendt, in her reflections on the nature of modern man as a being in time, places considerable value on the emptiness of the now into which we are inserted as the only chance we have to assert ourselves as thinking and creative beings in time. In Between Past and Future and other works Arendt essentially upends the hierarchy between time as a continuum and the tiny shards of experience that punctuate this overarching whole. Arendt suggests that we gain an understanding of time from within the interval between past and future that is our given moment when we utilize this moment to think. But we do more than gain an understanding of time from within this empty moment: we transform time itself. This is also true when we carefully study a photograph, and it is what leads Kracauer to speak of the “vague meaningfulness” of photographs with their affi nity for “unstaged reality”.11 I would submit that this transformation of time, now understood as the future into which we project ourselves by establishing the photograph’s meaning or context, is also evident in deliberately constructed images such as those by Thomas Demand, or Jeff Wall. We gain more than an understanding of time from within photography. We actually find the empty spot from which to think of different possible futures, even if we know from other sources that the picture’s outcome is inevitable. The photograph allows us to reimagine the future as a different and possibly counter-factual future. And it is this capacity to think of the future as not inevitable, or given by fate, history, politics, or any other forces, that makes us human. The following quote by Arendt is highly instructive when thinking of photography as organizing time into a before and after the shutter’s click: “Only because man is inserted into time and only to the extent that he stands his ground does the flow of indifferent time break up into

11. Kracauer, in Trachtenberg, op. cit., p. 265.

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The Time Expanded