Photographer Fong Qi Wei says about the project ‘Time is a Dimension’: “Photography is a medium that is famous for freezing time. The word snapshot suggests that a tiny slice of time is recorded for posterity.
But we do know that time is also a dimension, like length, breadth and width. In fact, physicists have a model called space-time: suggesting that time is part of a continuum with the 3 dimensions that we are familiar with.
A photographic print is flat, and essentially is made of 2 dimensions: length and width. Yet through composition and lens focus we give a print depth, which is a dimension that is perceived but not physically part of the photographic print. Great photographs (and great paintings) give information in all three dimensions. The best images are the ones which let you feel like you can step directly into the frame into a world which is on the other side.
But the print is still an instance. Most paintings and photographs are an instance of time. That’s not the way the world works. We experience a sequence of time, and that’s why a video is somehow more compelling than a freeze frame.
I work in the confines of a photographic print, because I like to do so. But in a way, I wanted to break out of this restriction of a single slice of time in photography.
Photographic prints are great because they don’t need power to be displayed. They are more or less permanent. Videos are great because they record a sequence of time which shows reality almost like how we experience. Is it possible to combine the two? And not via long exposure photography where often details are lost from motion.
So I played around with the tools of digital photography and post processing to give you this series: Time is a dimension.
This series of images are mostly landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes, and they are a single composite made from sequences that span 2-4 hours, mostly of sunrises and sunsets.
The basic structure of a landscape is present in every piece. But each panel or concentric layer shows a different slice of time, which is related to the adjacent panel/layer. The transition from daytime to night is gradual and noticeable in every piece, but would not be something you expect to see in a still image.
Similarly, our experience of a scene is more than a snapshot. We often remember a sequence of events rather than a still frame full of details. In this series, I strive to capture both details and also a sequence of time in a single 2 dimensional canvas. I hope it gives you pause and reconsider what you experience versus what you shoot with your next camera phone.