Light Writing

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Jacob and Lucy were looking at photographs together; she was explaining what she called art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction. They examined print after print, and Lucy spoke of practised seeing, methodical execution, and all the positive and negative relations that combine to conjure a beloved face. Her images came in many colours - browns, purples, sepias, olive - achieved by altering the developing silver with toning solutions of other metals - gold, iron, copper, selenium. Lucy was proud of her art: she saw before her an immanent opulence, recorded as her own metaphysics. These images would endure. These would gloriously outlive her.

-Gail Jones, Sixty Lights, p. 239.

I've been thinking about photographs and memory. This is not a particularly new or original thought, but nevertheless, a preoccupying one. What interests me, is the way that we become attached to certain photographs that are not of beloved faces, but of people we have never met. Why do we like certain images, and why do such images retain a presence in personal and cultural memories?

One of my favourite photographs is the one above of Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins. I don't know why this photo has stuck in my memory. I think it might have something to do with the slight details of their bodies: the small veins of her arched fingers near her hips, the way that one of his fingers moves in an opposite direction with such precision. It seemed to suggest something the moment I first saw it, and now I have forgotten what this suggestion was, but the photograph has remained in my memory.

So perhaps this is why we love certain photographs: because they suggest the secret life of our imperfect and fragile memory, and they outlive it. Photographs of beloved faces fit too neatly with memories, it's the more random memories formed by strangers that I'm finding particularly absorbing at the moment.

So in the spirit of my absorption, I'm curious to find out what other photographs people find appealing, or secretly like. Please do share, do you have a favourite photo?


Marinka said...

I love this photo

Sundari said...

This photograph is quite lovely. And you write about it beautifully. I really must think about which is the photo that has stayed with me. This is such an interesting topic, Hila. I am trying to research the connection photography has with mortality and by nature with memory and meaning making.

etre-soi said...

You wrote it so beautifully. This is such an interesting subject, and yes images are so important to me too, on my work I need them, either to work with them or for inspiration. Moments caught forever beyond our own existence.
I'm especially drawn to old weird images such as photos of people taken from the back or photos that went wrong: a mix of eternity and chance.

Indie.Tea said...

That is a beautiful photograph. And you describe it so poetically.
If I were to pick one single image, right now, it would be this one:

Athena. said...

This is incredible.
I have a few favourite photographs, simply because they evoke so much emotion within me.

Eliza said...

Hila dear, I can't find a single post where you don't speak about dense things that evoke smokey feelings in me; this one was truly so touching. You made me think about certain photographs I love, and why I do; and I can't say that I have a single one that I love above all, but all those that I do are intense. Even in simplicity, but they're intense, because they bring emotion, and a small glimpse of timelessness. xxx

gracia said...

"These images would endure. These would gloriously outlive her." Ah, Gail Jones has such a delicious and seemingly effortless way with painting the scene for me, and I, too, fall for photos of people I will never know. That particular photo of Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins is so beautiful that I cannot help but envy them both. I would give anything this very afternoon to feel to strong, skillful and... oh.

Kate said...

Such a wonderful read! I can't really put my finger on what I like when I like a photography, but it sertainly is these little bits that stick in your mind. Sometimes I wonder how much of it is interntional (by the photographer or model) and how much is just coinsidence. And whether I am the only one who sees certain things and other might not be able to relate to them. Like little hidden messages only meant for those who can see them.

Your blog is lovely and inspiring. Hope you don't mind me adding you to my link list.

tywo said...

You write beautifully. I like the photo a lot. It is very strong. All your posts make me ponder. I like your blog.
Have a good weekend.


odessa said...

i am so drawn by his hand and her facial expression. stunning photo indeed!

happy weekending, hila :)

Des said...

Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square after the announcement of the end of World War II is my favorite photo.

bronwyn said...

Any of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills. I'm not sure if I can put into words why I love them so but they speak to me on so many levels.

hila said...

thank you so much for your comments everyone! I particularly appreciate those of you who have shared your favourite photograph.

and kate, of course I don't mind you adding me to your list!