Bazin said that the photograph embalms time. Drawing a parallel between a mummified corpse and the image feels wrong, because one is preservation of physical flesh, a sacred rite founded from reverence and a fear of the unknown, and the other is light exposed onto stock. A crucial pillar of photography exists in this observation because photography is memory, arguably above all else. It is difficult to determine for certain whether the photograph is more so a manifestation of appreciation of the moment or the fear of losing it to oblivion, but point remains. Photography is preservation, the casting of a careful glaze over of the past and its placement into the kiln.
The general population takes advantage of the image’s tendency toward preservation. Everyone brings along their camera so they can document the moments they’ve all decided as a culture are significant. Everyone brings their camera along when they go on vacation. Everyone’s camera rolls have a bulge in photo count surrounding moments with their friends, nights doing cool and unusual activities, et cetera. People preserve the memory of the things they deem important. Maybe it’s because those things are genuinely important to them, or maybe it’s because they’ve been told those things are important. Maybe they film those things because they fear losing them. Regardless, important moments deserve documentation, and people know this. Whether they recognize which moments are the important ones…that is a topic for a different essay.
Once the photograph begins to move, suddenly the embalmment reorients itself along a new axis, and a decision must be made. The moment is moving now, it is charting a voyage along the passage of time…is this mummification? Is this preservation or extension? Is this the avoidance of glaze and kiln altogether, substituted for the malleability of the original clay? Has the frozen image morphed into emulation and recreation? Is that even more of a bastardization of the original experience?
One of the many dilemmas concerning the moving image is its consideration as a fountain of providence. As soon as the image starts to move, its spectators start to demand more of it. Film functions for many as the provider of answers, the provider of closure, of escape, of distraction. The anticipation of the next event is not something any of us deserve.
But now we’re (stuck in it)(get to stay in it)
She rounds the corner. What else do you want?