Objectively speaking, this Henry Grant photograph leaves out the most socially significant elements: faces and TV images. The children are looking away, and the object that holds them captive – the television show – is not visible. We see the children gaze at something, infer that they are watching a program, but we end up seeing what they are not seeing – the absence of images on the screen. Despite these social omissions, there is no sense that the photograph is missing something important, or that it is incomplete. It is an image of an activity: of an “uninterrupted flow of the moment” that Henry Grant always aimed to capture. You might find this result paradoxical: moments, events, or happenings are defined by the participating objects, and when we are not shown the objects, the event will get obscured. This image proves otherwise. It is by putting the significant elements of the event out of sight that the photographer enables the core of the event – the moment – to emerge most clearly .

Henry Grant. Children watching television. 1953.


2 Responses to “Television”