More thoughts on a JPEG --I haven't seen this printed out. It's from Chris Marker's final NY exhibition -- shots of subway passengers taken with a hidden camera. (See previous post.)
This has been "done": one example is John Schabel's photos of people in airplane windows snapped with a telephoto lens. OK, precedent noted.
Almost 50 years separates the woman subway rider from this frame from Marker's 1962 film La Jetee.
You can't miss the continuities. Both images feature a face in calm (yet anxious) repose surrounded by a vortex of angles and converging lines. The actual and reflected subway railings and the woman's bag strap suggest tubes and wires surrounding a comatose patient. Like "The Man" in La Jetee we could imagine she is dreaming or time traveling. From the physical tension of her arms and clawlike hands it's possible things aren't going so well.
The earlier image gained much of its impact from the stark blacks of silver nitrate photography. The subway rider is a study in slightly sickly colors: the green that you'd see on no American train and the green-and-brown fractal pattern on the wall and seats that resembles vegetation or cell-division. The clawing hand touches and interacts with this pattern in the woman's dream theatre. Both images are cinematic: "The Man" because the shot inspires tension and concern in the context of the overall story and "The Woman" because the shot is so dynamic, like a moment in a film where a camera lingers on a face in the midst of expressionistic chaos. The sensibility or vibe uniting the two images is fairly remarkable - how many photographers are this consistent even from month to month?
When an artist reaches 90 you want to write about him with respect. This is especially true if his work remains active and vital across the decades. RIP, Chris Marker.