Markus Stauff: The Pregnant-Moment Photograph: The 1908 London Marathon and the Cross-Media Evaluation of Sport Performances. [Abstract]
This article uses a famous photograph from the 1908 London Olympics to reflect on the broader relationship between competitive sports and photography, and especially to rethink the role of the so-called “pregnant moment.” While sports reliably offer dramatic situations which can be used to highlight photography’s potential to freeze movement and condense meaning in one image, photography offers sports a way to communicate the spectacle of moving bodies and outstanding performances. Yet sports photography is always entangled in cross-media practices that support and complicate the referentiality of the image in order to evaluate the athletic performance and its aesthetic experience. Adding to the broader discussion on photographic evidence, this article claims that, already starting in the early 20th century, sport contributed to a visual culture in which referentiality is unfolded in series of representations across different media. The pregnant-moment photograph, rather than condensing a competition in a single image, can more appropriately be conceived of as one instalment of such a cross-media series.