Posts Tagged ‘Susan Sontag’

Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 11/18

November 18, 2009

From Susan Sontag’s “The Aesthetics of Silence”:

[…] there is no such thing as empty space. As long as a human eye is looking, there is always something to see. To look at something which is ’empty’ is still to be looking, still to be seeing something—if only the ghosts of one’s expectations. In order to perceive fullness, one must retain an acute sense of the emptiness which marks it off; conversely, in order to perceive emptiness, one must apprehend other zones of the world as full.

From Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema 1: The Movement-Image:

If we see very few things in an image, this is because we do not know how to read it properly; we evaluate its rarefaction as badly as its saturation. There is a pedagogy of the image, especially with Godard, when this function is made explicit, when the frame serves as an opaque surface of information, sometimes blurred by saturation, sometimes reduced to the empty set, to the white or black screen.

(Visual) Quotes of quotes of quotes, 10/20

October 20, 2009


From Jacques Rivette’s La belle noiseuse (1991).

Even if incompatible with intervention in a physical sense, using a camera is still a form of participation. Although the camera is an observation station, the act of photographing is more than passive observing. Like sexual voyeurism, it is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging whatever is going on to keep on happening. (Susan Sontag, “America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly”)

Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 9/28

September 28, 2009

Very soon I’ll be the proud owner of one of them newfangled Kodak Zi8 HD camcorder device gadget things, which I’m obviously quite excited about, but until it actually arrives, the wait will continue to kill me. This desire to get my hands on a camera and start shooting anything and everything leads me to today’s quote, a fragmentary meditation on the nature of photography, written by one of my favorites, Susan Sontag. The quote is taken from her slightly notorious book On Photography, a divisive work that tries to come to grips with cameras, images, time and other equally light subjects. I chose this particular quote (from the essay “Melancholy Objects”) because in it Sontag ties her theory of the photographic image to cinema, and I just so happen to like me some cinema, yes sir. We here at CineMadison aren’t feeling especially profound today.

But the relation of a still photograph to a film is intrinsically misleading. To quote from a movie is not the same as quoting from a book. Whereas the reading time of a book is up to the reader, the viewing of a film is set by the filmmaker and the images are perceived only as fast or as slowly as the editing permits. Thus, a still, which allows one to linger over a single moment as long as one likes, contradicts the very form of film, as a set of photographs that freezes moments in a life or a society contradicts their form, which is a process, a flow in time. The photographed world stands in the same, essentially inaccurate relation to the real world as stills do to movies. Life is not about significant details, illuminated in a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.