Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Dimension

In the physical universe there are multiple spatial dimensions: three translational and three rotational, as we have seen. But there is also a single dimension of time. It is this time component that is of paramount concern to the photographer. Once all of the geometric choices have been have been made (the translational "where" and rotational "what") there is still one more dimension of choice to be made– the "when."

MORNING GUARD
© Bill Brockmeier, 2012
Once a specific shot has been completely set up in a geometric sense– the camera is attached to a tripod, then aimed and locked in a specific direction and orientation, and the focal length selected– the specific, unique image is still waiting to be determined. What will actually constitute that image will only be revealed as time unfolds, and at some specific instant a choice is made by the photographer to release the shutter and record the photograph. At that singularity the moment crystallizes and the photograph is born. The image now has creative life. Once having existence only as objects in the physical universe and ideas within the mind of the artist, these two combine in a mysterious transformation and transition from a fleeting existence in the physical realm to a more enduring existence in the photographic universe.

All around us the flow of time streams on, inhibited by nothing. All in the physical universe is moving, changing, living, dying. Nothing remains as it was. A rock, half buried in the surface of the earth, seems to be inert and unchanged by the years. And yet it is part of this globe that spins on its axis at a thousand miles per hour, and revolves around its parent star at sixty times that speed, and through this galaxy at who knows how fast. And given enough time on a geological scale it will erode away by wind and water and chemistry, carried into the planet's oceans, deposited on the sea floor, and possibly carried downward into the hot interior of the earth to be melted once again.
PARADE REST
© Bill Brockmeier, 2012

But the photograph lives outside of the physical universe that gave it birth. This extra-physical existence is now outside of time and outside of the movement of time that changes everything. This is an absolutely different kind of existence. Even if the photograph itself, the printed form, degrades, erodes, and fades away, the photograph itself– the crystallized vision of the artist– remains the same. Though derived from material existence and objects, the photograph has a fundamentally different type of existence.

One can have a camera on a tripod, locked in a specific direction, with the focal length fixed, and take a virtually limitless set of different images. As the sun rises in the morning, arcs across the zenith, and settles below the western horizon, this single day alone can provide a wealth of diverse photographic ideas. As the seasons change– fall, winter, spring, summer– what is seen by the camera is continually growing, moving, morphing. And as the decades and centuries and millennia fly by the view continues to change, evolving from what was to what is and ultimately to what will be.

And all the while the photographer is there, waiting. Waiting to grab the moment that will become his art, his image.

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