Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Ongoing Moment
I spent a sunny afternoon yesterday on the grass in well-documented Union Square finishing an amazing book by Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment. A must-read for all obsessed with photography.
Dyer's writing style is fresh and engaging and often even funny. Weaving in narrative accounts of canonical photographers' lives and relationships to one another, The Ongoing Moment meditates on how these figures examined some of the same subjects: unmade beds, benches, windows, doors, signs, skies, hats, backs, stairs, movie screens, televisions, gas stations, the blind, the open road - and through this collective consciousness, defined American photography.
Here's a particularly quirky take on the psychology of William Eggleston's photographs:
Eggleston's photographs like they were taken by a Martian who lost the ticket for his flight home and ended up working at a gun shop in a small town near Memphis. On the weekends he searches for that lost ticket - it must be somewhere - with a haphazard thoroughness that confounds established methods of investigation. It could be under a bed among a bunch of down-at-heel shoes; or in the Thanksgiving turkey that seems, somehow, to be 69ing itself; in the dusty forecourt of Roy's Motel; in the spiky ears of a Minnie Mouse cactus; in a microscopic tangle of grass and weed; under the seat of a kid's looming tricycle - in fact, it could be anywhere. In the course of his search he interviews odd people - odd in the Arbus sense - who, though polite, look at him askance. He suspects that some of them (especially the fellow sitting on a bed in what looks like the Motel Solaris) might once have been in a predicament similar to his own but have since put down roots. Not so in the guy standing naked in the red haze of a graffiti-scrawled room: he's gonna find that thing if it kills him. Trouble is, he can't remember what that thing is. Couldn't be an orange, could it?
(from The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer, page 193)