Wednesday, September 19

Squinting Backward

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How to carve today's cultural landscape into antique pieces?

Can I make an image that's identical to one seen by some guy 250 yeas ago?

Must we squint to see history?

Behind me here... directly behind me sits a booming mall. I'm standing in its driveway. Cars whizz past.

Over there sits the farmhouse for this place and from its parapet, across this pond, they could see tilled fields as far in my direction as they could look.

Now on an asphalt field in the city of Lancaster, I'm looking back...ward.

In today's late afternoon sun... Squinting.


Trub said...

Do you think that the occupants of that farmhouse sat on the veranda, looked about and pondered how their ancestors viewed the world? What with all their modern implements to farm efficiently in their hectic world it must have seemed like a romantic time. Every age is modern and slowly grows historic….even ours. What does our past tell us? We can see, read and contemplate ideas they were familiar with. We can agree, reject or change them but our past is our foundation. Ahhh, yes. Today is someone’s past. Will they value us? In order to move forward we must look back…ward. Objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear.

advman said...

Can you make some such image? Of course you can. It gets harder the more time goes by, but that applies only to the "pure" organic school of photography, and that you detest anyway, so what?

The image? Brilliant. What else? This is one of my most favorite techniques: using entirely blurred foreground. The tilt? You know, my problems with unusual tilts are legendary :)

Great image, great thought. As always.


Ted Byrne said...

(Trub) Okay... lemme get reeeeeely heavy here... your evocative post's encouraged it.

The thing is, as far as our brains are concerned, there really isn't a "now". It happens too quickly. By the time we are aware of "now" it has become "then". And yet.... and yet... we live in the "now".

How can that be? Everything we can be conscious of has happened, "then". Because it takes us too long to be conscious. But the camera can capture "now". That is what it does. It shows us what now looked like... "then".

Whew.... okay... so you point out, "Today is someone's past." As a matter of fact, this instant... as you are reading this word... it has become your past. Do you value it? Does it matter to you now, that you will value "now" ... in five minutes? Look on your desk. Is there a pen or pencil? A mouse? Think about moving it. Don't move it yet, just think about it. If you do move it... that will happen in the future. But you already thought about moving it in the past.

Now... move it. Have you controlled the future? Or just the past? But.. but... once it is past, you have no control over it. And the future hasn't happened so you can''t control it. You live here ... we all live here in the present... which has become the past.. as we look back upon that word, "present".

I like your ending... POWERFUL... yes...yes... those objects are as close as the pen/pencil/mouse you've just moved. Or as far as that farm house which still sits there overlooking a pond, and a massive, bustling, shopping mall. We can look backwards through those trees at it. But from there it cannot see the reason it was created.

Except in pictures, which capture "now".

Ted Byrne said...

(Andreas) Thanks for the compliments. But of course you like this image. I have stolen it from you. That is your signature composition and it is distressing me.

It seems that I am beginning to capture scores of tilted images. I cannot seem to help myself. The technique is like a tune that keeps playing in my head. A gorgeous melody that won't go away.

I shall overcome it, but in the interim, i shall explore the possibilities of a world... a-tilt.

Trub said...

Yes, by the time I utter the w in now it has long passed. My favorite definition of photography is …a record of the behavior of light during an instant of time. Those scientists among us will debate an instant or now or consciousness but for me now is “today”. Maybe it is a few hours of time but I have been programmed to think in those increments. We all have. The speed of changes and introduction of new “things” is poised to overwhelm us. Our defense is the comfort of now. I can imagine that to those in the farmhouse now encompassed a wider gamut of time. That is a romantic vision of a simpler time. Is it because too many instants of time have passed under my bridge?

I follow your discussion precisely and it has been one of my favorite topics. Even those other comments to Years from Now are in the same spirit. As a matter of fact, I see Last Path of Summer that way too. Some, more expert on that matter than me, believe that time flows in small bundles i.e. photons. If so, then there can be a smallest un-divisible component of time. Can it be diverted and modified? Can we change its direction, anticipate its approach? At least we can freeze it….or can we. The photograph is taken at one time and records objects from a previous time to be viewed in the future. We can only look back.