Christian Metz and Photography

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Task Three

According to Christian Metz, there are many differences between photography and film. The first difference would be the “spatio-temporal size of the lexis”. The lexis is a unit that one reads or receives a piece of art through. The lexis for photography would be the paper that the photo is printed on, whereas the lexis for film would be a cinematic screen. The cinematic lexis is larger than that of a photographic lexis as the film can be ‘enlarged’, in multiple ways, by sounds, images, movements etc, whereas photographic paper remains silent and still (Metz, 2003: 1). Another difference between photography and film would be their “principal legitimated use” (Metz, 2003: 1). This refers to their most common or well known use. Where film is seen as more of a ‘collective’ type of entertainment, photography is seen as a reference to more private and personal matters. Film is also generally seen as fictional, whereas photography is normally seen as more ‘real’ (portraying images of family life or real people and events). Where photographs are seen more as personal keepsakes, film is known to have a more “social reception”, being shared amongst many (Metz, 2003: 2). A third difference between photography and film would be their physical nature. The physical nature of film is dynamic, whereas the physical nature of photography is more static. Film includes more types of perception than photography. Where a photograph is a single image on its own, a film consists of multiple images joined together. The joining of these multiple images and shots creates a sense of movement, whereas a photograph is immobile. This movement in film implies that time is passing, whereas a photograph is timeless (freezing a moment in time). Photography is completely silent, whereas film includes multiple sounds such as speaking, sound effects and music (Metz, 2003: 3).

Task Four

There are many ways in which Christian Metz connects photographs to death. The first...
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