This summer, people talked about flow, or at least reblogged about it a fair bit.
Is it unreasonable to say that nothing could be farther from a photograph than the concept of flow? Photographs usually show single arrested moment, not a perfectly continuous series of them. (This exclude time lapse photography, but…) In a book, there’s a relation between images, but it’s more like the relation between items in a collection. Photography isn’t video!
Why does it make sense to talk about flow? Even if an image is static, it can be produced from a fluid technique. I mean something like letting things come to you, or throwing yourself into things—it’s a form of being unintentional either way. Maybe the “trick” of this technique is to keep different thoughts in mind, until they form “a tension so exact that it is peace,” as Robert Adams said.
This tension could be found in a shadow and a person:
or a painting and some walls:
or a train, a person and a city:
We can read these images and say that the things in them are as an expression of tension; they are totally arbitrary, totally ordinary, the train doesn’t need to be a train, it could have been anything but there happened to be a train there. But what kind of tension are we talking about? Maybe it’s between the actual flow of moments—dude… time!!!—and the concrete stillness we get back from the camera.
I had thought about this in late July while I was walking up a hill in Hokkaido, it appeared to me so clearly, now that I’ve written it out and gone over it a bunch of times it mostly seems confusing and pointless. But I want to publish it, just so that I can get over the thought. “A work is the death mask of its conception” – Benjamin