Friday, December 24, 2010

BON MOT

There is an old fashioned phrase that has often been used in place of the title or explanation given when a photograph is presented: "offered without comment." It is a useful phrase because it makes the reader feel more clever than he or she perhaps is; they think of an excellent retort or
bon mot
to accompany the photograph, and sometimes not even that is necessary. "Offered without explanation" the reader notes, and chuckles to himself. The explanation that he offers will be hilarious, he tells himself, once he polishes it to a hard shine. But first he must find it and so he sets the task for himself: tomorrow he will begin.

Of course you could say the same of the photographer: he knows that his photograph requires an explanation, perhaps even begs for it, but for once, the lens has outpaced the mind--or is it for once? Surely if this was the first time, he never would have bought a camera. A notepad would be more than sufficient And like the viewer, he chuckles to himself as well: after all, once the photograph is taken and offered, the world becomes a crowd of spectators. Some of the spectators are photographs. He is, for example. But then again, he asks himself, what can I possibly say other than CLICK?

So what do we have? A photograph, a viewer, an extraordinary crowd and a promise of a bon mot. From the viewer, from the photographer, from any passing witness. Who will approach the microphone? Everyone says this together: I will. Then see what happens.

Then look again, when all of this seems far away.

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