Time Regained

Disregarding scientific belief, sculptor Auguste Rodin claimed that photography did not capture movement and, consequently, time, but rather expelled it from visual representation. Therefore, the impulse to mechanically represent time with devices such as Étienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotographic gun and soon after cinema were solutions to a self-manufactured problem. According to Rodin, movement is better represented in the arts, by which he meant painting and sculpture, by condensing several successive movements in a single image: “If the representation as a whole is false in showing these movements as simultaneous, it is true when the parts are observed in sequence, and it is only this truth that counts since it is what we see.” For Rodin, truth is what we experience, and as we do not see the knife-edge instant of photographic time, photographic pictures are not truthful representations. The cinematic apparatus regained through its own mechanical means the truth that Rodin denied to photography. But to do so, it had to borrow from the playbook of sound: speed, rhythm, and an engulfing sense of overflow became the basic building blocks for this new image that would render all past representations unbearably static.