Being in the World: The trace and Re-membering


I think a great deal about time, how we process time as Heidegger understood it, as beings in the world. But trying to explain existence as a mark of time is a bit more complex. In my role as photographer, my principle task is to photograph a slice of time as that slice relates to the existential moment of existence. That moment of existence is both there and gone at the same instant leaving only a trace, a decaying trace at that. What memory engrams exist are at once selective (in the sense that we only see the world that is directly before us, the important aspects of our worldly passage) and decaying (in the sense that when recalled, the trace retrieved is not the trace recorded but something of the re-membering or re-constructing of the mythological world that once was.)

Photographers, working in the shortest slices of what passes for the existential moment but is still far to long to accurately re-present that moment, or in the case of the photograph above an exposure longer than the eye can see because the eye in only able to integrate the existential moment, translating that moment into linear time. The photograph, however, does violence to vision by creating an image that is selective in a far different way than the eye/brain connection. The selection the photograph makes is the entire frame of photographic vision or focal length. In the case of the image above, the exposure of a bit more than one second (one-one-thousand) created a surreal smoothing of the waterfall while holding the rest of the image in focus, an image the human eye is incapable of perceiving in normal time. By suggesting something other than what the eye/brain connection produces as vision, the falling water is more closely related to the probability of precise locations for the water to be during the length of the exposure (the longer the exposure the more closely related to probabilities and not to vision will be seen.)


But the photograph remains a violent artifact of a time that once was and will never be again, attacking the selective vision of the trace engram, of a moment in time, by including the entire frame, the whole field of vision, in sharp contrast to what the eye/brain connection can afford to record. (In some cases, the selective focus of the photograph blurs the background, a case for a later time, leaving the brain to wonder about that background yet it is much closer to how the eye ‘sees’ than the sharp photograph could ever be. The sharp photograph, however, presents itself as a ‘true’ artifact of the moment of shutter release than the intentionally blurry image created by narrowing the depth of field. The photograph becomes a re-membering, the arrangement of the members of the camera’s field of vision, the four corners of the photographic frame. It is an archive of that moment, that four-dimensional moment, flattened into a two dimensional image passing for the ‘truth’ of visual re-construction of that which was recorded by a camera.

The photograph takes on a life of its own once it is published. It is a visual text conceived by a photographer using the tools available. Just as a master carpenter has a selection of tools to go with his ability to complete a task, the photographer carries any number of tools to create a photograph. The camera is but a mid-process tool. Prior to even picking up a camera, one simply looks, engages with the natural environment, the surroundings, making visual decisions and sometimes taking notes (this place would look great at sunrise) for later use. After exposure, the photographer processes the image exposed. I use photoshop and lightroom as well as Photomatix Pro to create an HDR exposure. The process of re-presenting one’s vision is complex to be certain. Once all the whole process is complete and the image is released to the public, published so to speak, the photographic archive that is the image itself is now lost to the photographer forever. It becomes a text in the world to be seen by and critiqued by so many others.

The photographs I make are not mine. Once I publish them they become exterior to the producer of the image, not for me to to comment on directly or to have anything more to say about them. 

The images belong to the public, to those who like the images and those for whom the images are without merit. It is no longer for me to say, to speak about or write about. I do not have to justify the image in writing. That is why, for now and always, the blog posts will have little to do with the image connected to the post, rather they will be ideas I share with you, ideas shared as text which has the same violent underpinnings as the of a photograph, just in a different format.

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