Moments – artist statement

Moments – artist statement
22 January 2022

Moments is a series of ultrashort silent videos with duration ranging from 1 sec to 12 sec long.

According to Google, the word ‘moment’ can have two meanings: (1) a very brief period of time; (2) importance. Do some moments in life have more moment than others? Or can every moment become a moment of importance once it has been recorded? The act of capturing an image with a camera is a way of crystallizing a moment and turning it into something with meaning, something worth preserving.

For still photographs, the moment being preservied is just an instant that lasts for a duration determined by the camera’s shutter speed. For moving image, the moment can be longer, but how long is ‘very brief’ is inevitably arbitrary. The fact that videos are made up of individual frames of still images means that a video can also be seen as a sequence of instantaneous moments. However, the experience of looking at a photograph is different from that of watching a video because of the former’s undefined duration of viewing. In Kondo’s words, “the still image at a given moment contracts the captured moment into potential and its intensity expands through an unfixed duration of viewing; the moving image extends the moment’s potential, some of which amplifies during a fixed duration of viewing.” [1]

While the videos in Moments are presented as moving images, they hover over the blurred boundary between still photographs and movies, with the illusion of stillness and motion created by the editing process. A few of the videos were made up entirely of images orginally captured as still photographs, whereas others consist of still frames extracted from a longer video clip and then combined to create a time lapse of the original clip. Many of the works are shown with a blank ending, but some of the videos end with the last frame fixed on the screen which in effect is a photograph with a moving beginning.

When I started working on this project, I wanted the videos to last for at most two seconds, as I am interested in the idea of transience and how some moments, despite being short-lived, could still trigger feelings and imagination. However, as I developed the project, I felt a need to extend the duration of these moments. I often feel frustrated watching films with fast cutting [2] and wish I could have the opportunity to behold some of the scenes in these movies. I experienced the same need to have more time to look at some of the images in Moments, and would like other viewers to have the possibility to do so as well. This is feasible with the online mode of presentation – the viewers could pause the video at any frame, or replay each video as many times as they would like, if they so wish. My relationship with these fleeting moments that I have created highlights the fact that photographic image making, regardless of whether the image is still or moving, is perhaps ultimately an attempt to make something ephemeral last longer.

Moments is a project in progress. More videos will be added in the future. I also wish to involve other creative minds in this process and use these moments as ‘seeds’ for imagination and interpetation in other media e.g. words or sounds. The videos could perhaps serve as ‘seeds’ too for other kinds of collaborative projects such as interactive audio-visual improvisation. I hope that through such collaboration, these moments could acquire their moment, i.e. importance / value, in connecting people to make sense of this transitory life.

[1] Kondo, M (2014). Unfolding the in-between image: The emergence of an incipient image at the intersection of still and moving images. Contemporaneity, Vol. 3, pp. 50-61.

[2] According to Miller (2014)The average shot length of English language films has declined from about 12 seconds in 1930 to about 2.5 seconds today.”
Miller, G (2014). Data from a century of cinema reveals how movies have evolved. Wired.