Peter Wollen
[Writer, theorist, filmmaker, b. 1938, London, lives in Los Angeles.]

 The aesthetic discussion of photography is dominated by the concept of time. Photographs appear as devices stopping time and preserving fragments of the past, like flies in amber. 
 The lover of photography is fascinated both by the instant and by the past. The moment captured in the image is of near-zero duration and is located in a ever-receding “then.” At the same time, the spectator’s “now,” the moment of looking at the image, has no fixed duration. It can be extended as long as fascination lasts and endlessly reiterated as long as curiosity returns. 
 For photography to be an art involves reformulating notions of art, rejecting both material and formal purism and also the separation of art from commerce as distinct semiotic practices that never interlock. 
 Photography is motionless and frozen, it has the cryogenic power to preserve objects through time without decay.