The Arts Club's latest exhibition challenges considered ideas on the ever-developing medium
The meaning we take from photographs is devised from an equilibrium of what’s in focus, and what’s not – what is left out, edited and cropped out. The photographer’s vision dictates our perception. Oft this is as simple as obscuring and constructing the field of vision, but it can also be in the manner the image is produced. Be it like Man Ray or other twentieth century artists, such as artists László Moholy-Nagy or Wolfgang Tillmans where production was key and they favoured the use of exposing photosensitive paper to light, or the dripping of chemicals and the play of fiber-optic lights in the darkroom.
This new accessibility of photography – where everyone has the equipment to take good basic photos - has pushed artists to take the medium in new, highly subjective and idiosyncratic directions
This is all at the core of 'The Not Photography Show' exhibition where the curators will explore the work of non-traditional photography methods – everything from naturally produced images (thanks to the likes of burning plant spores) of Raphael Hefti to the reality of pixelated made accessible with the likes of smartphones and digital cameras. Dazed Digital spoke to the exhibitions curators, Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes, ahead of its opening.
Dazed Digital: How do you think the growth of photographic technology has changed the way people perceive photography as an art form?
Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes: Historically speaking, photography is a relatively new medium, which has changed radically from its early days - when it was highly specialised - to now when we are all able to use it so easily. This new accessibility of photography – where everyone has the equipment to take good basic photos - has pushed artists to take the medium in new, highly subjective and idiosyncratic directions, manipulating and using the materials that go into making a photo in thoughtful and innovative ways.
DD: Considering camera phones have changed the way people share pictures - rather than printing, we just send pixels - do you think this has altered the definition of a photograph?
Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes: Absolutely. Our whole attitude towards pictures has shifted radically in recent years. Where once the camera was considered an objective recorder and one people were wary of (there used to be genuine concern that a camera would steal the soul for example), we are all more aware of the possibility of manipulation of images, and we also tend to be much more casual about images of ourselves and others.
DD: Which piece/s in the exhibition most excite you?
Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes: We are really excited by all of the works in the show, and each artist is a technical and conceptual pioneer in this field. For example, Aneta Grzeszykowska‘s work is reminiscent of artists such as Thomas Ruff, who takes straight portraits of ordinary people, but in her case the people have never existed. They are amalgamations created purely in photoshop. Funnily enough, this doesn’t stop the viewer from trying to empathize with them or read into their biographies. Raphael Hefti burns the spores of the plant Lycopodium, which has explosive properties, and these mini-combustions in the dark room are what create his abstract, almost celestial feeling compositions. Wolfgang Tillmans’ creates his highly original Freischwimmers using fibre-optics in the dark room. And the list goes on - each artist has cultivated highly idiosyncratic techniques that make their work individually distinct and exciting.
DD: What do you want people to consider when walking through the exhibition?
Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes: How much photography has transformed since its inception, about new approaches to the medium of photography as a contemporary art form, about what photography means today and we would also just love people to enjoy each work on it’s own aesthetic and conceptual merit.
The NOT Photography Show at The Arts Club is on from October 2, 2012. More info HERE