Photographs and the illusion of the frozen moment by Wayne MacPhail

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Aug 072014
 

“What’s a photograph? If you answered: “a moment in time captured on film or as a digital image” your answer would only be right for the last hundred years or so. Back in 1839, when the Daguerreotype process was announced to the world, an exposure on a glass positive would take 20-30 minutes. When, two years later, Henry Fox Talbot introduced his calotype method of creating a film negative, the exposures were shorter, but still measured in minutes, not seconds or fractions of a second.”

“So, with either method, what was captured was the accreation of time stacked, chemical reaction by chemical reaction, on an exposed plate. Early photographs are a hearty slice of time, not a unique, frozen sliver. The images they catch never really existed as we see them now. They are collapsed movies.”

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