Image is Dialectics at a Standstill

December 10, 2008

The Kid Doesn't Stay in the Picture

“What distinguishes images from the “essences” of phenomenology is their historical index…the historical index of the images not only says that they belong to a particular time; it says, above all, that they attain to legibility only at a particular time. And indeed, this acceding ” to legibility” constitutes a specific critical point in the movement at their interior. Every present day is determined by the images that are synchronic with it: each “now” is the now of a particular recognizability. In it, truth is charged to the bursting point with time.”

-Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project [N3,1]

For more on why a picture is both exactly and exactly the opposite of what you want it to be see my paper entitled:

The Kid Doesn’t Stay in the Picture: Sigfried Kracauer on Photography, Memory and History


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