Marking the indistinct: Indexing photographic time
Lodhie, Lindsey Lee
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"Marking the Indistinct: Indexing Photographic Time" examines durational exposure in the photographic arts, analyzing the temporal dimension of the photographic mark towards a rearticulation of photographic indexicality as a fundamentally non-figural representation of time rather than a mimetic rendering of the visible. With the advent of new imaging technologies and the apparent imminent obsolescence of celluloid, the debate regarding photographic indexicality has once again come to the fore. Fiercely contested in previous decades as an uncritical guarantee of photography's objectivity and claim to ontological truth, renewed interest in the index attempts to re-situate the term conceptually, in connection with the trace, in order to examine celluloid's specificity in the current media landscape. As trace, the index indicates its own lack, or distinction from what it represents. The inherent delay or afterimage implied by the constitution of an indexical sign always refers to a referent which no longer remains but also, and perhaps most importantly, a time which is no longer now. In the photographic, time and referent are inextricably linked through exposure. The advent of an appearance is made possible, and limited by, a temporal inscription: light through time. Therefore, the renewed interest in the index as trace highlights the temporal and durational character of photographic images--moving away from the mimetic dimension traditionally ascribed to the basic ontology of photography. Via its indexical status, the photographic reveals itself as a non-identity, an empty sign, a pointer, a trace. In this articulation of the index, photographic presence may be something other than, yet in excess to, its referent. This excess and distinction is augmented figurally through duration, approaching a limit where mimetic detail is 'blurred' increasingly towards the non-figural. Extended exposure works thus provide more than an experimental technique--they augment and push to the limit the indexical character of the photographic as a representation of something immaterial and non-mimetic: time itself.