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.
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…
I watched an amazing movie last night. It is called The Seventh Walk. I subscribe to Mubi which shows a lot of the kinds of movies I love. Here is what Wikipedia says about Mubi:
Originally called The Auteurs, MUBI was founded in 2007 by Efe Çakarel, who began work on the business model for MUBI after being unable to watch In the Mood for Love online while in a café in Tokyo. In 2010, the company adopted the new name MUBI. MUBI is a curated streaming service, which offers an ever-changing collection of hand-picked films, introducing one new film each day.
The Seventh Walk. There is no dialog. The camera work is beautiful. The sound recording is spectacular… the sounds of drawing and painting, of walking, of bird and insects, wind, and water! And the music is enchanting.
As one who enjoys the abuse of substances, I was taken with the stories of performance enhancing supplements such as a blend of Cognack, sugar water and Ether to aid in the participant’s quest for domination. As a matter of fact, just so I could fully enjoy the experience of the film, I mixed up that very concoction for myself, but before long got distracted and found myself in the corner of my living room attempting to gnaw through a garbage can lid.
At any rate, I whole heartedly recommend any and all lovers of the two wheels and the fixed cog to get this movie if for no other reason than to see first hand where they came from.
My dad took me to several six day bicycle races in Köln. They were always scheduled at the end of the year when school was on break. I thought it was very exciting. I remember the riders relaxing (because their partners had taken over from them) and talking to one another with one foot in the clip and the other one on the handle bar, steering the bike. Might have to order the DVD – Netflix doesn’t have it.