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THE VISUAL IMAGE DISCUSSED


ONE LAST SHOT


Each month Peter Silverton takes his eclectic eyes out into the world of image making, to bring us back reports on what he’s seen, making us question, debate and discuss our perception and creation of the visual image in all its forms. Because everyone knows that you always need one more shot...


A black man in a hooped polo shirt is mowing a suburban hillside in what looks like thin early morning light. Groceries,


tinned and packaged, sit on three shelves of a small convenience store. The black man again, still mowing the verge, only the clouds have now moved along and the mower has turned 90 degrees to the right. Those are the first three images in the first


volume of Paul Graham’s 2007 duodecalogy, AShimmerofPossibility. The first is a rectangle in the middle of a white right-hand page. The second is smaller, lower and on a left-hand one. The third is the same size as the first, but placed a little higher on the page. After that follows a succession of similar


images; mowing man mostly on the right and store shelves on the left, moving up and down the pages. There are 14 photographs in all; it’s a very short book. One of the last is of a half-empty shelf. The very last one is of the black man who came to mow. He is mowing away from us. The light seems different. It’s later in the day, clearly. We have a sense of time passed, of temporality


and narrative.We think about the man, about his skin colour and his place in the social equation.We wonder about his relationship to the convenience store.We think about the Vietnamese-run store on the edge of the poor side of Clarksdale,Mississippi, just a few hundred yards from the historic junction of Highways 49 and 61. Or, at least, I do. If the most important moment in modern art is


Duchamp’s 1917Fountain, then the most important image for photography isManet’s 1882 painting, ABarattheFolies-Bergère. Camera-based, still-image-making has been trying ever since to recover from the impact ofManet’s assault on it. The painting was both a reaction to, and a critique of, photography, which had then been around for


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