Fotograf Magazine

Photography’s Expanded Field

I begin not with a negative, nor with a print, but with a screen. On the screen can be seen a landscape, a campus it seems, identified by cheerful signage and imposing brutalist buildings. This is a screen in motion, as the view begins to rotate, parading before us the series of changing buildings but also the denizens of this place: various youth, students both bohemian and conformist, potential professors, security and police. Along with the bodies, the camera scans automobiles not so much in motion as sentenced to their destruction, as we see car wreck after car wreck, an obvious homage both to one of the great moments in the history of photography, Andy Warhol’s use of catastrophe photographs in his series “Death in America,” and to one of the great moments in the history of cinema, Jean-Luc Godard’s infamous eight-minute tracking shot of wrecked automobiles in the film Weekend (1967). And yet if the cars here do not move, neither do the people; both wrecked object and frozen subject simply pass by in an endless scroll – a rotating frieze – punctuated repetitively by one accident after another, a revolution that reaches its end only to loop and repeat itself again. Indeed, the strangely static moving-image work in question, Nancy Davenport’s Weekend Campus (2004), was made by a photographer; it consists entirely of a scanned series of photographic still images and was positioned as the introductory piece in a recent exhibition otherwise given over to digital photographic prints.[ref]Nancy Davenport, Campus, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, March 5 to April 3, 2004.[/ref]

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#19 Film