Portraits, Still Video Portraits and the Account of the Soul
Lowry, Joanna (2006) Portraits, Still Video Portraits and the Account of the Soul In: Lowry, Joanna and Green, David, eds. Stillness and Time:Photography and the Moving Image. Photoworks/Photoforum, Brighton UK, pp. 65-78. ISBN 1903796180
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The essay considers the phenomenon of the still video portrait and its relationship to the construction of subjectivity in contemporary culture. Taking Diderot’s idea that ‘our soul is a moving tableau which we depict unceasingly’ and Benjamin’s reflections upon Hill and Adamson’s portrait of the Newhaven Fishwife as a starting point , the essay discusses the relationship between absorption, performance and time in the portrait. It then goes on to reflect upon the way in which temporality is embedded in specific technologies and the impact of such an embedding upon the ontology of the subject. The still video portrait raises interesting questions because of the way in which it constructs a space of the visible within which subjects can perform themselves in time. Through analysing the still video portraits of Fiona Tann and Thomas Struth Lowry suggests that such work offers a new enchantment with the provisionality and fragility of the pose and with the alternation between absorption and performance. It provides an architecture of space and time within which the subject can be encountered – a discourse of visibility and distance across which we read the account of the soul.
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