The Ongoing Moment – Geoff Dyer (2005)

The Ongoing Moment

I found Geoff Dyer’s The Ongoing Moment over in Melbourne, and was kind of surprised that I’d never noticed it here in the States. It’s a book of musings on photography, the connections and links between photographers and photographs. Dyer sticks to mostly well known names: Evans, Stieglitz, Strand, Arbus, Weston, Frank, Eggleston, Shore, and others. There are a handful of color plates; unfortunately the other reproductions are a bit small and not very high quality, but they’re enough to sense what Dyer is describing. It’s not an attempt at a history of photography, it’s more of a set of essays on what Dyer finds while looking at photos.

What I found most intriguing were Dyer’s musings on time (and of course about photographic time). Here are a couple samples:

In photography there is no meantime. There was just that moment and now there’s this moment and in between there is nothing. Photography, in a way, is the negation of chronology. (120)

The influence of innovators like Frank and (Ornette) Coleman extends in both directions. Obviously they have a massive impact on the work that is made after them. But once it becomes clear that they are rooted in a tradition, which they seemed, initially, to flout, challenge, or overthrow, they change our perceptions of the work that has gone before. Just as the new appears traditional so the traditional comes to seem newer. (168)

Here’s a nice review of the book at Ready Steady Book.

PS. I tend to like books on any subject that bring in Ornette and Don DeLillo!

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