This little aside brings me to Jullien’s comparison of Eastern and Western metaphysics. As mentioned in previous post, Jullien establishes a binary between Chinese notions of drive and tendency to that of the Western notion of cause and effect and chronology. With Jullien’s binary construction in mind, film and photography have the same disparity. While photography may be interested in causal relationships it does not seek or strive to present them to its viewers. “Still photos, then, cannot be seen as narratives in themselves, but as elements of narratives. Different types of still photograph correspond to different elements of narrative. Thus, different types of genres of photography imply different perspectives within durative situations and sequences of situations”—Pg 110. In other words, images from a still photo can be placed in the context of multiple narrative forms: documentaries, newspaper, even film. It is not the image that changes as it is placed in the context of one of the these media forms but the medium of media itself, that is, the image, as it is placed within a narrative context, is used to manipulate the larger narrative as a whole.
Before I get into the instruction that I see permeating through this section of the text, I would like to talk about the use of photography to function as narrative. Wollen states that a photo, to achieve narration in the context of minimal narrative, three photos, not one singular one, must carry the stages of process, event , and stage. Wollen offers this example:
Image 1: A man watering a the garden (process)
Image 2: A child steps on the hose (event)
Image 3: The man is soaked and the garden is empty (State)
By arranging images in such a way, a narrative can be told even though the narrative fails to offer the complex back story and history that a film desperately needs to make apparent with viewers. With this difference, the images allow for the viewer to build and write and imagine their own context of events. For example, the viewer is left to imagine why the kid stepped on the water hose. This sort of narration of images makes Lacan’s notion of drive (libido) and Jullien’s notion of shi more understood, as all three: Shi, libido, and the still photo, suggests this unexplained tendency or interest in something without explanation. With Wollen’s sequence of photos we are perhaps left asking, why these images and not others. Why this moment and not the one before the child stepped on the water hose?
Instruction 4: Take three photos and create a minimal narrative of them. Label each photo with its corresponding part: process, event, and state. Conclude with a brief explanation of what is occurring in each photo, but say no more than ten words.