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Title: The decisive moment and the moment in between : Kairos, Tyche and the play of street photography
Author: Castoro, Manila
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 8398
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation provides a theoretical and historical exploration of two contrasting approaches and attitudes that took hold in street photography during the 1950s, and of their impact on the street photography of the 1960s and 1970s. The two approaches and attitudes are identified as, firstly, that of the "decisive moment," and, secondly, what is referred to as the "moment in between." The former attitude was famously introduced by Henri Cartier-Bresson and exemplified within his work, while the latter is distinctly manifested in the work of William Klein and Robert Frank. Through a comparative and interpretative approach to each, this study analyses the work of photographers whose imagery exemplifies the stylistic differences, and the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the two attitudes to street photography. In the first part of the dissertation, two concepts taken from ancient Greek thought - kairόs and tyche - are used to elucidate the nature of, respectively, the decisive moment and the moment in between, as well as the differences between these approaches to street photography. It is argued that the concept of kairόs embodies certain spatial, temporal, aesthetic and moral features capable of enriching the understanding of the approach to street photography represented by the notion of the decisive moment. The concept of tyche, with its focus upon chance and the unforeseen, brings to light a powerful contrast with the decisive moment, emphasising the photographers' position in respect of the fortuitous episodes that shape their practice, as well as the significance of the abandonment of linearity, intelligibility and determinability that is characteristic of this approach and attitude toward reality. The second part of the dissertation is dedicated to the impact of the decisive moment and the moment in between upon the North American street photography of the 1960s and upon the work of photographers active outside of the North American and Western European cultural and intellectual contexts. In particular, it is argued that in the 1960s, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander established within their work a bridge between the approaches of the decisive moment and the moment in between, bringing about their fruitful co-existence within a single image. By interpreting these elements through the categories of kairόs and tyche, I analyse how these photographers embraced both approaches with the aim of appreciating the aesthetic opportunities resulting from their union. This second part also involves an examination of the extent to which forms of street photography that developed in relative isolation from the intellectual and cultural contexts of North American or Western European street photography, or which are embedded in non-Western ideas and philosophy, may still be understood by means of the dichotomy between the decisive moment and the moment in between. The works of Miroslav Tichý, a photographer who worked in the climate of seclusion of Communist Czechoslovakia, and Raghubir Singh, an Indian photographer who was profoundly influenced by Indian philosophy, are analysed in order to assess whether or not the categories of kairόs and tyche can be usefully employed in their interpretation.
Supervisor: Friday, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: N Fine Arts