Shifting Relations of Still and Moving Photographic Images | Martin Jaeggi | Tuesday, 05.02.2013

A Visit at Plat(t)form 2013

Instead of continuing my last post, I will allow myself a digression. Last week, I attended the annual Plat(t)form event at Fotomuseum Winterthur, where young photographers from all over Europe showcase their work. And indeed one could observe, as befits the topic of my blog posts that young photographers are increasingly beginning to take advantage of the fact that their cameras can record both still and moving images. A number of them showed videos besides their photographs which seemed quite natural, since it was always evident why they had decided to turn to the moving image. Their videos were a continuation of their photographic works, unmistakably shaped by photographers' eyes, owing but little to the aesthetics of mainstream cinema.

One photographer showed a diaristic film on his quotidian surroundings which bore the same melancholy gaze as the documentary photo series he presented alongside it. One could sense that he had turned to video because temporality – the duration of the single shots, the pacing of the editing – allowed him to intensify the mood he sought to convey.

Another photographer whose work focused on subcultures and conveyed a certain subdued cool glamour, presented a video that showed a women dancing, her body moving in precise sync with the electronic beats as if they were fed directly into her body – an image as haunting as erotic. It was a precise complement to her photographs whose still starkness was underlined by the presence of the video.

It is evident that video is beginning to become an integral part, a logical extension of the work of young photographers who will thus redefine the field of photography. This development, of course, calls forth the question what exhibition formats these photographers working with video will devise that allow them to integrate the two media, to balance the distinct qualities of each, since moving images have a innate tendency to overpower photographs. A very precise use of space is certainly one of the demands this development engenders.

The turn to video complemented the tendency of these young photographers to conceive and present their photographs in book form, which can also be considered a temporal medium since it creates a linear, clearly structured viewing experience to be perused in one or more sittings. It was interesting to see that a heightened sense for the specific temporality of the viewing experiences generated by single prints, series of prints, books, and videos seems to be emerging, certainly due to today's media environment.

One of the participants showed no photographs at all. Instead he presented the documentation of a beamed multi-screen installation with video material that he had collected on the Internet. A couple of years ago, I am quite certain, this would have proven to be controversial in a format dedicated to photography. Yet today, no one questioned its inclusion. Times are indeed changing.