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Melancholy DriftMarking Time in Chinese Cinema$
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Jean Ma

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789888028054

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888028054.001.0001

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Photography’s Absent Times

Photography’s Absent Times

(p.50) (p.51) 2 Photography’s Absent Times
Melancholy Drift

Jean Ma

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter focuses on another form of technological surplus that distinguishes the film's historiographic approach, a surplus articulated by reference to photography and the conjuncture of the still and moving image. Photography dominates the inter-mediated perspective of A City of Sadness. The medium's central place in the narrative is conveyed by another of the Lin brothers, Wen-ching, who is a photographer by vocation. Given its longstanding association with a private sphere of remembrance and affective meaning, photography constitutes another means by which the film explores the zone of contact between history and the everyday. A mechanism for the personal inscription of time's passage, analogous to the diary as a discourse of memory, it introduces an additional layer into the film's collage of documentation and transmission. Photography signifies both the film's pedagogical investment in memory's critical possibilities and its suspicion of memory as a ready substitute for history.

Keywords:   A City of Sadness, Wen-ching, collective memory, photography, history

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