3/06/10 7:37 PM
Sometime in the 1990s photographers began to fashion themselves as filmmakers of a sort, creating still images that pictured scenes from films that never were. From Gregory Crewdson to Sam Taylor-Wood, this cinematic photography expanded the narrative capacity of the camera tenfold, creating a genre that began to give some credence to the old truism about pictures being worth a thousand words. Enter Luke Snailham, whose ambitious work aims to tell, in the severely limited space of a single frame, a story as bizarre as the one suggested in Untitled #2, 2.39:1. In the fountain of a mid-priced hotel lobby a man appears, out of nowhere, his naked body glowing with a blinding, unearthly light. Who is he? What does he want? Will he harm us or heal us? Snailham offers no answers to these questions, or any of the many others that could be asked of his oblique and singular image. That, in the end, is both the strength and the weakness of this style of picture making and also that which differentiates it most importantly from cinema itself: where the former traffics in the fragment, the latter traffics in the whole. A picture can tell a thousand words, but it can be almost impossible to tell exactly what those words are, and what million others they belong to.