An Empty Portrait, time with….

“You cannot hang an event on a wall, only a picture”
Mary McCarthy 1960

An Empty Portrait, time with… aims to challenge how we can experience photography, with a somewhat consuming desire to encourage people to engage with the image for longer than they may ordinarily. Time With … aims to move away from the transient nature of identity in the portrait towards encouraging the viewer to look, consider and wonder.
As with the work You and Me Both I adopted a style of shooting that produced a view autonomous from my own; I came out from behind the camera. The viewer of the final work will never experience what I saw, or what the subject saw, they will have their own experience. I look and the subject looks and the camera looks on and records.
The making of a photographic portrait involves the passage of time however the end result usually provides the viewer with a finite and customarily singular view. From this image numerous readings may be initiated; the fleeting expression, once frozen in the photographic image, can become symbolic of a person.
An Empty Portrait, time with… is concerned with the time of the experience within which the image was created? It aims to give back and presents the viewer with the time taken in the sitting in its entirety. In the still images we see a layering of all the images taken during the sitting; the eyes which were the point of engagement become the anchor point for the image. With this anchor in place all the other subtle changes fuse and merge creating a blurring, not of motion but of time, creating for the viewer a time in which they can look and contemplate.
The video installation component to this work takes this notion further still and puts forward a new notion of the portrait blurring the boundary between the still photograph and the cinematic, further challenging the traditional relationship between photography and temporality.
Expanding the temporal boundaries allows us to examine and consider the photograph through an approach more affiliated with the moving image. The unfreezing of the image aims to create or recreate a place where any tangible relationship to time is lost, the future or the past of the experience are immaterial. It could be said that one of the key values of art is to stimulate the visual faculty and through the act of looking all the thoughts one can consider. The use of filmic technology in An Empty Portrait, time with… activates the eye of the viewer; it brings time to the piece, a time of looking. The works are re-presentations or portraits of time spent, the identity of the subject becomes inconsequential, this is not a concretized view. Ultimately all that remains is a record of them looking at me.

All Images © Copyright Virginia Woods-Jack 2020

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