thin slicing times


Making a photograph — a snapshot of a passing scene or the staging of a scene as though for posterity — has usually been understood as an act of consciousness, what Henri Cartier-Bresson called a ”decisive moment” of consciousness, but I suggest that it has less to do with consciousness than the unconscious. It has to do with that ”critical part of rapid cognition known as thin-slicing” — ”the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behaviors based on very narrow slices of experience” — those thin slices of experience we call photographs. “Thin-slicing is part of what makes the unconscious so dazzling” — and photographs so haunting and fascinating — “but it’s also what we find most problematic about rapid cognition. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short time?” — in the blink of the camera’s eye, which seems to think without thinking, to refer to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking?(1)

more from Donald Kuspit at Artnet here.