Stuck/Black Ice

At Anne-Fay’s, in swine flu quarantine limbo. So no shots of Nando’s performance at EYHO last night, which saddens me.

Instead, been catching up on mailing-list reading and thinking about images, in halt compensation for inability to go out and make them. More on that later, but first a note to self, bookmarking a short thread on the Empyre list’s discursions around Relational Aesthetics this month. Reminded me I’ve never read Barthe’s Camera Lucida, so have a 2nd-hand copy on its way from Amazon… of which, I would be very interested to read James Elkin’s “Camera Dolorosa” in History of Photography, vol. 31, no. 1, (Spring 2007) pp. 22-30, if anyone has a copy handy?

Later: Thank you, Google. Elkins’s essay is available here.


Sometime later I thought photography could be better compared to a sheet of black ice, the kind that forms overnight on a lake when it is bitter cold and there is no wind […]. I know from experience that it can be terrifying to walk on black lake ice: it fractures with each footstep and the breaks squeal and shriek as they spread through the ice. Underfoot, the fissures look like white crystalline ribbons. Somewhere a foot or two beneath them, the ice ends, and the black water begins. Black ice is a horizontal window that looks down onto nothing visible. Peering down, you see into a thick deep darkness: not a black surface like a wall in a dark room, but a place where light becomes weak, where it loses energy, where it dies in some viscous depth. The lake water that must be underneath the ice seems more an idea than anything visible. It is an idea of falling or drowning. It is a place that admits light but does not give back any image.

So I thought that looking into a photograph is like standing on black lake ice and looking down into the water beneath it.