Giraffe Time

Ewan, Vanessa and Coutts, Nicky (2018) Giraffe Time. Photography and Culture, 11 (2). pp. 139-152. ISSN 1751-4517


The disciplines of Theatre and Photography invite differing responses to time. The Photographer navigates the technological practicalities of shutter speed and exposure required in “taking a shot,” while the Actor evolves her own human register of time, recognizing how it may alter when playing a part. To inhabit these disciplines from the outset, we adopt the roles of an Actor and a Photographer. We extend our dialogue to include non-human animals, thereby creating a common focus for our observations. Giraffes, parrots, and gorillas are chosen for their distance from, ability to imitate, and proximity to humans, respectively. Their inclusion helps us describe a space in which time can be observed. Although they are not acting, the animals we choose to work with are nevertheless staged before an audience in wildlife parks or zoos. Our intention is to “take” time, as a Photographer might, to frame the scenes described. Joint autobiographical texts narrating our encounters with these animals are interrupted by individual “close-up” sections, where the Photographer and Actor draw on their own subject areas proposing individual perspectives. The aim overall is to see what our eyes, in our exchanges with the animal, will reveal as knowledge.


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