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Photography in Film and Video
Stephen Gordon
Photography in Film and Video
There may also be other reasons why video artists, filmmakers and cine-photographers choose to incorporate still images in their moving image work.

For example, the way photography relates to memory and thus to movement in time. In this sense, we may suggest that the question of the still images' use in film and video remains essentially a matter of memory and time.

The first thing to consider is that the photograph does not create exact reproductions of the world. It rather acts to compress image data. It is a synthesiser of time. By capturing a movement, the still image marks a hole in the flow of time. Here the still, frozen movement of the 'past' interacts directly with the 'present' action of remembering.

Nostalgia (1971) by Hollis Frampton is an example of this fractured temporal flow. Twelve photographs appear consecutively accompanied by an out-of-sync commentary. The duration of each shot is determined by the length of time it takes each photograph to burn and shrivel into carbonized paper as it rests on an electric hotplate. Nostalgia is interesting because by using and then burning still photographs it not only alludes to things which no longer exist, e.g. the passing of time, but also the openness of memory.

However, photography does not explain memory. As Henri Bergson reminds us (Creative Evolution 1944), photographic memory existed before the invention of the photograph. Our memory is a pool of images. Each time we recover a memory it is as if we were focussing a camera (Bergson, Matter and Memory 1991). However, each time we focus we can only capture fragments as the past we are trying to recollect is in movement. This sense of movement that connects the past with the present has been called duration. For example, Micheal Snow's One Second in Montreal (1969) may be understood in terms of duration. Similarly, Tim Macmillan's Ferment (1999) where the still image catches glimpses of people and snatches of sound as they exist in that instant suggests that at each stoppage time starts again.

A still from Coded Skin by Stephen Gordon
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