“I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs.” -Garry Winogrand
The Depictive Level: Time (part III of IV)
The third transformative element is time. Someone saying 'cheese' when having a portrait made acknowledges unconsciously the way time is transformed in a photograph. A photograph is static, but the world flows in time. As this flow is interrupted by the photograph, a new meaning, a photographic meaning, is delineated. The reality is a person saying 'cheese'. The camera, bearing mute witness, depicts a person smiling perhaps a shallow, lifeless smile like one in a yearbook portrait or a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but a smile nonetheless. Say 'crackers' and the camera will see a sneer.
Two factors affect time in a photograph: the duration of the exposure and the staticness of the final image. Just as a three-dimensional world is transformed when it is projected on to a flat piece of film, so a fluid world is transformed when it is projected on to a static piece of film. The exposure has a duration, what John Szarkowski in The Photographer's Eye called 'a discrete parcel of time'. The duration of the exposure could be ... one ten-thousandth of a second ... Frozen time: an exposure of short duration, cutting across the grain of time, generating a new moment... or two seconds ... Extrusive time: the movement occurring in front of the camera, or movement of the camera itself, accumulating on the film, producing a blur ... or six minutes. Still time; the content is at rest and time is still.
The Nature of Photographs
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” -Diane Arbus
After a creative person senses that on the horizon of his or her expertise there is something that does not fit, some problem that might be worth tackling, the process of creativity usually goes underground for a while. The evidence for incubation comes from reports of discoveries in which the creator becomes puzzled by an issue and remembers coming to a sudden insight into the nature of a problem, but does not remember any intermediate conscious mental steps. Because of this empty space in between sensing a problem and intuiting its solution, it has been assumed that an indispensable stage of incubation must take place in an interval of the conscious process.
Because of its mysterious quality, incubation has often been thought the most creative part of the entire process. The conscious sequences can be analyzed, to a certain extent, by the rules of logic and rationality. But what happens in the "dark" spaces defies ordinary analysis and evokes the original mystery shrouding the work of genius: One feels almost the need to turn to mysticism, to invoke the voice of the Muse as an explanation.
But what happens during this mysterious idle time, when the mind is not consciously preoccupied with the problem? Something similar to parallel processing may be taking place when the elements of a problem are said to be incubating. When we think consciously about an issue, our previous training, and the effort to arrive at a solution push our ideas in a linear direction, usually along predictable or familiar lines. But intentionality does not work in the subconscious. Free from rational direction, ideas can combine and pursue each other every which way. Because of this freedom, original connections that would be at first rejected by the rational mind have a chance to become established.
At first sight, incubation seems to occur exclusively within the mind; what's more, within the mind's hidden recesses where consciousness is unable to reach. But after a closer look, we must admit that even in the unconscious the symbol system and the social environment play important roles. In the first place, it is obvious that incubation cannot work for a person who has not mastered a domain or been involved in a field. A new solution to quantum electrodynamics doesn't occur to a person unfamiliar with this branch of physics, no matter how long he or she sleeps.
Creativity - Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention