The Present - Paul Graham
"...when you dance with life itself: when you form the meaningless world into photographs, then form those photographs into a meaningful world." -Paul Graham
A tribute (one that seemed impossible, given the weight of history) to New York street photography and its American masters – Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand –
The Present shows the hustle and bustle of New York and its jumble of people, lights, signs and movement.
Paul Graham lifts two moments from this never-ending flow; twin images separated by the briefest fraction of time: a scene and its immediate double. The ebb and flow of urban life make a random choreography of time and space. The decisive moment unfolds, as we realise that another moment is right behind it. The fascinating unpredictability of "what happens next" in a space dense with trajectories is played out between the images.
Caught up in their own world, these people are not surprised by the photographer. Rather, the photographer seems surprised by what happens to them, by the spontaneous eruption of a fleeting scenario; a possible meaning. Like John Baldessari before him, Paul Graham captures that unlikely moment when three balls thrown into the air become perfectly aligned.
The extraordinary within the ordinary. Randomness embraced as perfection.
The dominant theme in The Present is thus our awareness of others around us - our consciousness if you will - and the highly focused attention to life that it demands. "The Present ends an unofficial trilogy of American works. In American Night, the camera's aperture control is opened wide to flood the landscape with light in overexposed, near invisible whiteness. A shimmer of possibility examines the flow of time, and the stuttering narrative of our daily lives; in a camera, the shutter controls time. The Present deals with awareness of what we specifically see, utilising highly specific focus.