by Yve Lomax
There had been much talk of the event, and hearing this I had to ask: what constitutes an event and how can it be said of a still photographic image? I was listening out for theories of the event and my attention was turned toward the temporality that comes about in events: in each and every event there is a wait - a meanwhile - in which a present moment in time doesn't come to pass. Deleuze's words were beckoning me, holding me... 'the agonizing aspect of the pure event is that it is always and at the same time something that has just happened and something about to happen; never something that is happening.'
Is an event going to happen; or, has it happened already?
The question was lingering, and I had no answer. But then, unexpectedly, a smile broke out. A broad smile. A grin. It was said that grinning is the broadening of a smile; and quickly following this, it was asked if, with the broadening of a smile, an event takes place. A stupid question perhaps some would think; nonetheless, a possible answer had been given to me: the broadening of a smile can be considered an event because with it there is a becoming. Simply put, events are becomings.
In the broadening of a smile there is a becoming; however, with a becoming, a present moment in time can never be pinned down or fixed; for, a becoming is always and at once going in the two directions of what has just happened and what is about to happen.
When a smile is broadening isn't there a dimension to this event that remains, as it were, up in the air? The broadening comes to exist as it is put into effect in a smile upon a face, yet there is an aspect to this taking-place that isn't grounded upon a face. Yes, something in the becoming of broadening eludes our solid thinking and escapes the taking up of a definite place. And some would say that this is the upsurge of time.
It would seem that smiling and photography have an affinity for each other. How many times has a camera asked for and been attracted to the taking-place of a smile? But doesn't the photographic act simply halt the becoming - the event of broadening - that takes place in the taking-place of a smile? Does it not destroy the event? What comes with these questions is the notion that a still photographic image (unlike the moving-image) always arrests, 'freezes', a present moment in time, which is, precisely, what never can happen in the becoming that takes place in an event... the event is always and at the same time something that has just happened and something that is going to happen, never something that is happening.
Responding to those questions I would say that a photographic image has never arrested a present moment in time. I would say that such talk of freezing or arresting is born of the spatialisation of time.
When the spatialisation of time occurs, the movement of time is made to continually stop at one of the numerable points that mark and divide up the 'space' of a geometric ruler or the face of a clock. Every step of the way, the present moment becomes a point that, in taking up a definite place on a line, comes to separate a before from an after. However, when a present moment in time is thrown into question no such separation can be made; we have, at the same time, that which is 'no longer' and that which is 'not yet'. You can say, as Blanchot does, that a present moment gapes open and becomes a peculiar interval that brings 'the outside of time in time', which is precisely the time that a 'meanwhile' brings.
The outside of time in time - have you experienced this? And what if we were to see a photographic image not as an instance of the spatialisation of time but, rather, as the very interval in which a present moment in time remains in question and outside of (chronological) time? Would we see that with the meanwhile of the interval there is resistance to the present?
In the meanwhile there is a time that is 'empty' of the present and this emptiness could be a way to (re)think the stillness of the still photographic image. To think of stillness in this way would be to think of the 'movement' of becoming. It would invite my thinking to go with becoming, which is nothing other than time interrupting the present of itself, which is the upsurge of time and what marks time's resistance to banality.
In the meanwhile of the event, thought gains the means to become an act of resistance to what is. In event-thinking thought can go further than believed possible, it can go all the way to the impossible, and going there, which is nowhere, thought confronts the wall of the unthinkable. We knock at the wall to make a sounding of what lies beyond but any such sounding will always sound what cannot be thought. A barrier, yes; a point of impasse, yes; but the unthinkable is all that which resists what is in our times.
Going all the way to the point of impasse is what makes it possible for the thinker in us to turn around and think our times according to this impasse. In the event (in the interval opened by a still photographic image), the thinker - the seer - goes all the way to what is unthinkable within smiling and grinning and, moreover, a photographic image and a human face.