If you think that photography cannot be just a snapshot of an instant, the chance to catch the fleeting, but the product of thinking, then here you are in the right place!

In this web space we talk about a photograph that is also a language, not just aesthetic research or pure testimony of the world.

The photographic medium can become a communication tool for thoughts, feelings and emotions, through a closer look, an investigation on our daily reality.

If we just consider the Italian photographic panorama, the SLOW WATCHING idea finds many common points with the cultural operation performed by Luigi Ghirri and the group of Emilian photographers starting from the 70s.

Gianni Celati wrote about Ghirri's work: "... [...] a glance that doesn't search for hidden treasures, that doesn't look for exceptional adventures."

The SLOW WATCHING project was born on the net in 2015 as a Facebook group, mainly as an artistic movement. The group is open to everyone and currently has more than 400 registered authors from various regions who can present their photographs for a collective and shared reading, inspired by the principles of the movement.

SLOW WATCHIG is not a genre, but an "intention" of photography and, since its start, it be came natural to collect this idea in a manifesto.

"... [...] The drafting of a manifesto is one of the components of what we call the artistic-literary movement characterized, in most cases, by a program of discontinuity or renewal of the existing panorama, characteristic of a specific historical period and of a specific region, which constitutes its identity, ... [...]. In art, a new movement is born and is such when the need for a change is perceived and when the artists meet and identify themselves in the founder's thinking and proceeding in the direction indicated by the manifesto. The movement therefore indicates a group of people who gather around the idea to promote a particular vision of art. The term derives from the verb to move, in this context intended as moving together, in the same direction, precisely agreed upon... [...]"
Source: Laboratorio Di Cult 025 FIAF - Virtual manifestos by Monica Mazzolini

Since its birth, photography has found itself swinging between being the faithful reproduction of reality and the free interpretation of the world. In the first case, if we trust in the authenticity of the photographic medium, the image is considered as a strongly referential object and interpreted as the reality itself. Therefore the work of the photographer must be limited to a series of technical operations aimed at the most faithful reproduction of the world and of the events to be represented.

We know that, starting from the simple initial framing operation, the photographer makes a series of choices that end up as an interpretation of reality, his own personal point of view on the world.

As a consequence of these choices, the photographer, from a simple "machine operator", becomes an "artist". If then the choices are not aimed only at an aesthetic research, we can begin to read the photographs as a series of signs that go beyond what they simply represent. The image becomes a producer of meaning and our perception is required to move to a more complex and articulated vision level.

We should not be fooled by the immediacy of shooting times: photography is a product of thought, therefore, both in the realization's phase and in fruition's one we should approach the world in a more careful an slower fashion.

Luigi Ghirri wrote: "The important role that photography has today, from a pure communication point of view, is to be able to slow down the speed of the process of image reading. It represents a place to observe reality or its surrogate, which still allows us to see things. On the contrary, in a movie or on TV, the perception of the image has become so fast that we are unable to really see. It is like being able to read an article of a newspaper whose pages are continuously turned by someone. It is a form of slow watching, extremely important in today's life, characterized by an accelerated technological and perceptive process."
Source: Luigi Ghirri, Lezioni di fotografia (Photography lessons), Edizione Quodlibet, 2010

In the last one hundred years of its millennial history, mankind, thanks to the invention of motor vehicles and movies and TV later on, has accelerated its vision process, which has become more superficial. To move at "a walking pace" was once the normality, while today it is an unpleasant inconvenience due to a traffic jam!

Therefore let's think how much our approach in watching a landscape, or every other ordinary event in our life has changed. Our distracted look cannot focus on them and is not really involved. We have somehow accepted the idea of not being surprised by anything in our everyday life. Perhaps our blindness is due to our belief of knowing everything.

Photography is a product of thought and SLOW WATCHING means being aware of ordinary life through a more attentive and slower glance, and narrate it through photography.

It is important to preserve the dignity of everyday life and be surprised of simple things by watching them in a different way, in order to discover the world around us and learn how to enjoy it, and appreciate what Luigi Ghirri used to call "the sentiment of living".

Marco Fantechi