Tuesday, 4 September 2007
The Ongoing Moment
I recently read 'The Ongoing Moment', a book written by Geoff Dyer in 2005. Dyer has confessed in a previous book that not only does he not take pictures in the course of his many travels but that he didn't even own a camera.
'The Ongoing Moment' looks at the ways that many photographers, in this case mainly American, have at different times photographed many of the same things such as, park benches, barber shops, blind accordion players, roads, ...
The book focuses on content rather than form, constructing links between these photographs and the photographers many of whom lived at different times, in different places and never meet.
The themes he has been drawn to are mostly fairly ordinary images such as hats or steps. Once photographed the moment captured becomes ongoing. When images of the same things are captured at different times, in differnt places, by different people, each image captures a different part of this ongoing moment.
"One of the features of this photographic taxonomy is that there is a great deal of seepage or traffic between categories. No sooner had I established hats and steps as organizing principles than i saw that some of the pictures that had engaged my attention had both hats and steps in them."(Dyer, 2005, pg6)
The structure is unique, although comparisons to John Berger, about whom Dyer has written, are appropriate. Brooks Johnson writes: “The Ongoing Moment offers a fresh perspective for understanding why photography affects us all so profoundly. Geoff Dyer is a real writer-someone with definite style as well as ideas.”
The interesting thing about this book is that the images it focuses on and Dyer becomes fascinated with are everyday and ordinary. The book describes how "Great photographs change the way we see the world; The Ongoing Moment changes the way we look at both"