The Unseen Photograph

large format camera

Take away the old-fashioned camera on its tripod and this picture is a different picture altogether. But, with its equipment and vista, this picture announces itself to be to us, as viewers of it, a self-conscious work of art which aestheticizes its own being the making of a beautiful work of art. But something else strange is going on here. This is a work of art that is yet to be made! So, we then viewing this picture, we become the artists who are going to make it, standing directly behind the wooden-legged tripod of the large format camera. We ourselves, looking at it, imagine it! We look and see what it could be. We survey what we see in this photograph and imagine ourselves timing the moment to make that actual yet-to-be photograph—which this photograph is not! Not only is this field of creative yearning opened up, not only is the finite infinitude of the beautiful misty horizon opened to us here, but the exact position of where our exact footing will be—is—is in it. We know exactly where we will step, where we will stand, where we are going to imagine the picture that will be that we are going to make will be. But we do not know when we will make it! That is left, as we gaze at this photograph, to our imaginations.

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