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Timeless Traces of Temporal Patterns

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Long‐exposure photographs present distinctive philosophical challenges. They do not quite look like things in motion. Experiences of such photos take time, but not in a way that mimics the time of the motion depicted. In fact, it would not be off base to worry that these photos fail, strictly speaking, to depict motion or things‐in‐time. And if they fail to depict motion, then it is an interesting question what, if anything, they succeed in depicting. These timeless traces of temporal patterns are thus a challenge to how we understand pictures. In addition to being representations, however, such photographs are recordings. They witlessly register aspects of scenes in a manner that can be replayed. The following shows that recording is a valuable and neglected tool for investigating representational practices. Aspects of what photos record also figure in their representational contents, and this provides a way of approaching the photography of events in time. This article proceeds by framing, and then answering, three questions. First, what do photos record about temporal patterns? Second, which aspects of such recordings also show up in photos’ representational contents? And third, do these pictures depict, rather than merely represent, such temporal patterns?
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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