Space and Culture

Emplacing Time: Photography, Location, and the Cinematic Pilgrimage

by Alberto Zambenedetti (2020)

Cinema, arguably the time-based medium most synonymous with modernity, is also an art form of place: cinema records place in time and, in the best circumstances, stores it through time. If, as Michel de Certeau remarked, “space is a practiced place,” then cinema is the memory of that practice; it is the archive of that transformation. Cinema, in other words, “emplaces time.” Moreover, because of its physical properties, film is also an archival object whose very existence is challenged by the passing of time. In recent years, the ways in which cinema emplaces time have become the subject of a dual contemplation on the part of a generation of photographers whose projects re-photograph cinema’s loci, from movie palaces to film locations. This article investigates the relationship between film the work of three “cinematic pilgrims”: British artist Michael Lightborne, whose 2012 installation Interval (After Intervals) included photographs of the locations for Peter Greenaway’s 1969 short film Intervals alongside the original film; Christopher Moloney’s ongoing project FILMography, in which the Canadian photographer travels the world bringing printed reproductions of film stills to the sites where they were originally shot and then re-photographs them in situ; and the travel blog Fangirl Quest by the Finnish Tiia Öhman and Satu Walden, a photographer and a travel expert, respectively, who re-photograph a location while displaying the related movie scene on a tablet practice (a practice they call “sceneframing”). These projects underscore cinema’s innate relationship with place, while they also highlight the changes that occurred in the time that intervened since production, revealing the instability of the filmic object as one of time as well as in time.

emplacing time, cinematic pilgrimage, location, modernity, photography.

Emplacing Time
Modernity’s Locations
Cinematic Pilgrims

(Alberto Zambenedetti, Department of Italian Studies & Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto, Carr Hall, Room 209, 100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2C4, Canada. Email:


Zambenedetti, Alberto
Emplacing Time: Photography, Location, and the Cinematic Pilgrimage.
In: Space and Culture 23,4 (Nov 2020), pp. 548-560.