a blog by knut skjærven

Moments Sticks

The more I occupy myself with these areas, phenomenology and photography, the more they seem to interconnect.

I should have recognized this a long time ago, but I am afraid it only occurred to me recently. Simple things sometimes mature slowly. It goes like this: The notion moment is essential to both phenomenology and photography.

All of us, interested in photography, have heard of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moments as described in his famous book from 1952. I am not going to repeat that story here since it is already on this blog.

Considerable fewer of us know that a moment also is a central theme in Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology.

It goes like this: Phenomenology deals, among many other things, with parts and wholes. Parts comes in two types: Pieces and moments.

If I have a framed picture, and that picture is a photograph, the framed picture could consist of a) a piece of glass, b) a wooden painted frame, c) white passepartout, d) a back plate to support and stabilize it all, and e) possible some nails, tape or glue to hold it all together.

These parts are all pieces. They are independent parts.

Independent parts are parts that can be dismantled. They have, as one of their characteristics,  the ability to live their own life after being dismantled from the picture. Pieces don’t stick.

There is, however, also another type of parts involved. These parts are moments. Moments are dependent parts. They do not live their own life after being dismantled. In fact, they cannot be dismantled at all. Moments sticks.

Have a look at the picture above. Moments are e.g. the light and shadow in the black and white print, the identification of some of the combinations of light and shadows as human beings, stairs, shoes, legs, stone, etcetera. Try take those parts apart and discover that such a thing is not possible.

Here is a very important type of moments: All those parts that are not seen in the photograph. You see only parts of two women, yet you know that the rest is there. You see only parts of a staircase, yet you know the rest is there too. These moment sticks.

He is my point: If you combine the photographic moments with the phenomenological moments, there opens up a wholly new road of understanding photography. Simple as that.

What are the implications of this? Let me come back to that. They are huge.

I will leave is there, since this blog is also a notebook. I just made a note.

Have a good day.

By the way, you may want to chick the image above. Just to see where it takes you.

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