Long Photographs, Long Music, and the Long Now

Bill Viola, Still from Quintet, 2000 Bill Viola, Still from the Quintet series.

The classic short film Powers of Ten encourages us to step out of our immediate physical and temporal frame of reference. Any activity that breaks us away from our half-second-unit information-heavy attentions nowadays is a healthy one. Looking at an image, for example, is a great way to allow yourself a long moment.

In recent days there's been some fooforaw regarding Flickr's decision to allow users to post short videos. Much discussion has ensued on the concept of the "long photograph."

Photographer and blogger Clayton James Cubitt has gathered a great handful of links relating to long photography. My favorites are this comment on a clip from Koyaanisquatsi and Cubitt's own Zero Feedback pieces.

Bill Viola is another artist whose work demands that we slow down. If you are lucky enough to be in an art museum that has a Viola in their collection, do yourself a favor and stand in front of it for at least two minutes. What at first appears to be a still image will be revealed as a super-slow-motion moving picture -- a long moment. (Here is Bill Viola at Wikipedia.)

Also out this week is a trailer for the documentary Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts. While watching the abovementioned clip from Koyaanisquatsi, I heard a snippet of the score and thought, "Gosh, that sounds like Philip Glass." Sure enough, it is. You'd have thunk I went to college.

Finally, if you're looking to step way way way out of your current temporal perception, look into the Long Now Foundation. Among other projects, they're building a 10,000-year clock.