I use film cameras and wet darkrooms; lit red with safelights, I stand before pools of chemistry, each allotted a coloured tray and tongs, each measured with some accuracy, all waiting in their respective ordering to receive the latest latent image-laden sheet of paper from the activities of the enlarger.
The process of using films, developing, proofing and editing, then printing out is all part of my value chain which culminates in a photograph on paper, which interests me emotionally or stimulates some other response. The process and the image are intertwined in a nexus of artistic effort, which I relish; a creative and emotional exercising of some pent-up urges. The images that result are often unrecalled; strangely familiar yet, altered in some ways beyond my experiences – I never feel that I saw that, or knew that moment (partly a result of time passing, while I accumulate rolls for a large single development session; partly a separation of direct experience of the moment recorded).
Instead, the photos show me something intimate and near to my experience, but as though they’ve passed through a sequence of overheard conversations, to become altered by inexact iterations and interpretations. This is somewhat akin to the oft-quoted line from a Garry Winogrand interview: “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.”. I have discovered that I shoot and am shown what the photograph is once printed out; I see what the photograph looks like (accommodating my darkroom interpretation, controlling contrast, tonal ranges, etc) as a new viewer, as fresh to the image as a stranger.
In this realisation, I see my children as I have not experienced them in our day to day; my wife as another woman; the world as a new place constructed from familiar shapes and forms.
It seems nonsensical to try to invoke the same feelings in others: Garry can no more convey his understanding of the things he sees in photos, comparing them to his real world understanding of things, as I can bring my realisations of my photographic processes and their results. We can only tell another person what other people learn in the magic of photographing things, and only then from the first person perspective.
Now, with the photos made, my perceptions tweaked by what they show me, how to show them to others? Scan and post is a clear process: the results are the clear dissemination of what the paper holds. But the photograph is a flat paper surface, that suggests the real world it reflects. It would seem that photos of this paper reality are more fitting to convey the truth of a printed photograph, or rather not to hide or obscure the physical limits of them as simple paper products. When one sees photos in exhibitions, we suspend belief in the physical nature of the object we gaze upon, accepting a projected reality where none exists. Few displays offer the chance to recognise the photograph itself with its image (which defines it): examples are displays of early photos, of daguerreotypes for example.
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What Is This Blog?
News about No Gallery, details of exhibitions etc.
I’m going to try to be as open as possible about the No Gallery process so a lot of work-in-progress will be shown here.
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