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Time Series 1974

by Sue Ford

Brummels Gallery of Photography

August 16 - September 9, 1974

"For sometime I have been thinking about the camera itself. Trying to explore its particular

UNIQUENESS, coming to terms with the fact that I had been trying to ignore for some

years, that the camera is actually a MACHINE. The machine has an enormous power easily

abused. Man seems to misuse his machines continuously, with disastrous results for this

century. In "Time Series" I tried to use the camera as objectively as possible. It was a

time machine. For me it was an amazing experience. It wasn't until I placed the photograph

of the younger face beside the recent photograph that I could fully appreciate the change.

The camera showed me with absolute clarity, something I could only just perceive with my

naked eye."

by Kate Rhodes

Fieldwork Australian Art 1968 – 2002 Clockwork

published by the National Gallery of Victoria 2002

A photograph is still, but with a nod to her background in film-making, Ford introduces flux into the Time Series – the gap between 1962

and 1974 is traversed in the flicker of an eye. Ford has rarely produced single photographic images, instead, she prefers a fluid, filmic

way of working, creating works or art in pairs of extended sequences. In these photographs Ford uses the passage of time like glue:

each parallel pair works together and relies on the other for the development of narrative, in a similar way to the annual photographic

portraits of the Brown sisters, 1975-, by the American portrait photographer Nicholas Nixon, or the extended series of Up films (7Up,

42Up, and so on), 1964-, by British Film-maker Michael Apted. Like them, Ford controls the camera as a social eye. She records life in

the 1960s and 1970s, documenting the inner circle of an artist and the youth of a rapidly changing Australia. Ford has also used the

camera as a reliable recording device to investigate the appearance of change in films such as Faces 1976-1996 (1996), Time Changes

(1977), the photographic series Growth (1975) and Faces (1976).

The Time Series is a sequence of documentary style images for a public audience, rather than private images to be cherished by Ford.

Even though they are printed to an intimate scale, these subject studies are neither sentimental nor self-confessional. As viewers we

might look at the Time Series in an imaginary shared space with the sitters and wonder what changes have also occurred to ourselves in

the last ten years. The titles of the photographs – Ross, Lynne – are not only identification labels but characterizations. We might use

them to call out to the person if we recognize them in the street; we feel we know something about them just by looking at their faces. In

the way that portraitists such as J. W. Lindt, August Sander, Richard Avedon and Rineke Dijkstra have created ‘signs of the times’,

physiognomic approaches to making and viewing photographs are also appropriate to understanding the Time Series.