Posts Tagged ‘light

03
May
20

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Sleep/Wound’, 1995-96

May 2019

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it;
but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect
how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but
eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky,
whose bottom is pebbly with stars.

.
Thoreau, Walden

 

 

The series Sleep/Wound appeared in my solo exhibition titled The Cleft in Words, The Words As Flesh, at Stop 22 Gallery, St Kilda, Melbourne in 1996.

The series consists of ethereal, intimate photographs of my partner and myself in sleep positions, taken on infra-red film, the only time I ever used such film. I was fascinated (and still am) with the positions of the body in space, and how it moves in different environments.

The second part of the series are photographs of a performance, that of the cutting of my partners back. Paul and I held a dance party at a house on Punt Road in South Yarra where our friend Woody (David J. Wood of Bent Metal fame) was being evicted. The party, naturally enough called Eviction, was held to raise money for HIV/AIDS. Paul and I decorated the house, painting large, colourful kundalini symbols such as snakes and mandalas on the walls. In one room, painted with the seven colours of the main chakras, and to ambient music connected to earth, spirit and cosmos – I cut my partners back. Half the people fled, but the other half recognised the powerful spiritual connection that was happening in the performance (remember at this time, blood in terms of being gay, was tainted because of HIV/AIDS infection). I then smeared Paul’s blood on the walls of the house with my hands, crossing the boundary of the taboo by touching a bodily fluid whist acknowledging something that is essential to human life.

After packing up all the equipment from the party, we both headed to the Tasty nightclub (if any of you remember the Tasty raid) to have a good dance, with the blood still drying on Paul’s back. People were shocked at seeing his cut back. When we got back home at 6am in the morning I took out my trusty Mamiya RZ67 and took these beautiful photographs of one of the most connected, spiritual experiences of my life.

My thankx go to Paul as always for being my muse and partner without whom these experiences and photographs would never have been possible.

Marcus

 

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991-1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image. Please remember these are just straight scans of the prints, all full frame, no cropping !

Photographs are available from this series for purchase. As a guide, a vintage 8″ x 10″ silver gelatin print costs $700 plus tracked and insured shipping. For more information please see my store web page.

 

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958) 'Untitled' 1995-96 From the series 'Sleep/Wound'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England 1958)
Untitled
1995-96
From the series Sleep/Wound
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive 1991-1997

Marcus Bunyan website

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24
Aug
17

Exhibition: ‘Bill Henson’ as part of the NGV Festival of Photography, NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 10th March – 27th August 2017

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5 (detail)
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

Masterclass

There is nothing that I need to add about the themes, re-sources and beauty of the photographs in this exhibition, than has not been commented on in Christopher Allen’s erudite piece of writing “Bill Henson images reflect the dark past at NGV” posted on The Australian website. It is all there for the reader:

“Figurative works like these, which invite an intense engagement because of our imaginative and affective response to beauty, are punctuated with landscapes that offer intervals of another kind of contemplation, a distant rather than close focus, an impersonal rather than a personal response, a meditation on time and space. …

Henson’s pictorial world is an intensely, almost hypnotically imaginative one, whose secret lies in a unique combination of closeness and distance. He draws on the deep affective power of physical beauty, and particularly the sexually ambiguous, often almost androgynous beauty of the young body, filled with a kind of potential energy, but not yet fully actualised. Yet these bodies are distanced and abstracted by their sculptural, nearly monochrome treatment, and transformed by a kind of alchemical synthesis with the ideal, poetic bodies of art. …

The figures are bewitching but withdraw like mirages, disembodied at the sensual level, only to be merged with the images of memory, the echoes of great works of the past, and to be reborn from the imagination as if some ancient sculpture were arising from darkness into the light of a new life.”

.
What I can add are some further observations. Henson is not so serious as to miss sharing a joke with his audience, as when the elbow of the classical statue in Untitled 2008/09 is mimicked in the background by the elbow of a figure. Henson is also a masterful storyteller, something that is rarely mentioned in comment upon his work. When you physically see this exhibition – the flow of the images, the juxtaposition of landscape and figurative works, the lighting of the work as the photographs emerge out of the darkness – all this produces such a sensation in the viewer that you are taken upon a journey into your soul. I was intensely moved by this work, by the bruised and battered bodies so much in love, that they almost took my breath away.

Another point of interest is the relationship between the philanthropist, the artist and the gallery. Due to the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution, the gallery was able to stage this exhibition. This is how art philanthropy should work: a private collector passionate about an artist’s work donating to an important institution to benefit both the artist, the institution and the art viewing public.

But then all this good work is undone in the promotion of the exhibition. I was supplied with the media images: five landscape images supplemented by five installation images of the same photographs. Despite requests for images of the figurative works they were not forthcoming. So I took my own.

We all know of the sensitivity around the work of Henson after his brush with the law in 2008, but if you are going to welcome 21 photographs into your collection, and stage a major exhibition of the donated work… then please have the courage of your convictions and provide media images of the ALL the work for people to see. For fear of offending the prurient right, the obsequiousness of the gallery belittles the whole enterprise.

If this artist was living in New York, London or Paris he would be having major retrospectives of his work, for I believe that Bill Henson is one of the greatest living photographers of his generation.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the images in the posting and supplying the media images (the images after the press release). All other images are © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #35 2009/2010 and at right, Untitled #8 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #35' 2009/2010

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #35
2009/2010
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #8' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #8
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #1' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #1
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation views of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled 2010/2011 and at right, Untitled #9 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #9' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #9
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #2 2010/2011 and at right, Untitled #10 2011/2012
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #2' 2010/2011

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #2
2010/2011
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #10' 2011/2012 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #10 (detail)
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #3' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #3
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria with at left, Untitled #16 2009/10 and at right, Untitled #10 2008/2009
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #10' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #10
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #5' 2011/2012

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #5
2011/2012
archival inkjet pigment print
180 × 127cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled #15' 2008/2009

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #15
2008/2009
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled (detail)
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled' 2012/13 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled (detail)
2012/13
archival inkjet pigment print
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #2' 2009/2010 (detail)

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untitled #2 (detail)
2009/2010
archival inkjet pigment print
127 × 180cm
Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan, Bill Henson and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan in front of Bill Henson's 'Untitled' 2009/10

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan in front of Bill Henson’s Untitled 2009/10 which features Rembrandt’s The return of the prodigal son c. 1662 which is in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Photo: Jeff Whitehead

 

 

The solo exhibition, Bill Henson, will showcase recent works by the Australian photographer, who is celebrated for his powerful images that sensitively explore the complexities of the human condition.

The exhibition brings together twenty-three photographs selected by the artist, traversing the key themes in the artist’s oeuvre, including sublime landscapes, portraiture, as well as classical sculpture captured in museum settings.

Inviting contemplation, Henson’s works present open-ended narratives and capture an intriguing sense of the transitory. Henson’s portraits show his subjects as introspective, focused on internal thoughts and dreams; his landscapes are photographed during the transitional moment of twilight; and the images shot on location inside museums juxtapose graceful marble statues against the transfixed visitors observing them.

Henson’s work is renowned for creating a powerful sense of mystery and ambiguity through the use of velvet-like blackness in the shadows. This is achieved through the striking use of chiaroscuro, an effect of contrasting light and shadow, which is used to selectively obscure and reveal the form of the human body, sculptures and the landscape itself.

“Henson’s photographs have a palpable sense of the cinematic and together they form a powerful and enigmatic visual statement,” said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. “The NGV mounted Bill Henson’s first solo exhibition in 1975 when Henson was only 19. Over forty years later, audiences to the NGV will be captivated by the beauty of Henson’s images once more,” said Ellwood.

On display at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the inaugural NGV Festival of Photography, the exhibition has been made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography Photo by Sean Fennessy

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Sean Fennessy

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untiled 2009/10'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2012
© Bill Henson

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untiled 2009/10'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2011
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography Photo by Wayne Taylor

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Installation view of Untiled 2009/10
2009-2010
Inkjet print
102.1 x 152.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australia Artist, 2011
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Wayne Taylor

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955) 'Untitled 2008/09'

 

Bill Henson (Australian born 1955)
Untitled 2008/09
2008-2009
Inkjet print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Bill Henson' at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Bill Henson at the National Gallery of Victoria. Presented as part of the NGV Festival of Photography
Photo: Sean Fennessy

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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22
Sep
12

Review: ‘Jenny Reddin: The Art of Catastrophe’ at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 5th September – 29th September 2012

 

Jenny Reddin. 'Caught in an Effervescent Breeze' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
Caught in an Effervescent Breeze
2012
Oil on canvas
122 x 122cm

 

 

“Each epoch dreams the one to follow, creates it in dreaming”

.
Jules Michelet

 

“Each epoch dreams of itself as annihilated by catastrophes”

.
Theodor Adorno

 

 

A star is born

The origin of the word catastrophe is Greek (kata + strophein) and its literal meaning was “overturn”. According to its definition, it is an event that causes trauma due to its capacity to destroy most of a community. Catastrophes are extreme events that affect a large number of victims in the affected community, and are easily identified as events that cause physical suffering.1 The use of words such as disaster (origin in the Italian word disastro (dis + astro, “bad star”)) and catastrophe create the idea of a “disaster taxonomy,” one which is based on the principle that there are variable emotional responses that depend on the type of disaster, the degree of personal impact, the size of the group affected, and the geographical and temporal range of the event.2 These pure words define the event itself and the havoc they wreak without incorporating the perceptions of the victims; in other words they are an objective reflection on the subjective performativity of the act itself.

Catastrophes fascinate humans as they clearly show them the limits of their own existence. The dystopian catastrophe challenges the temporal linearity of a utopian dreaming in which the darkness of the lived moment is illuminated by the anticipatory daydreams of the “not-yet-conscious” future. What catastrophe codes is a dialectical relation to Utopianism, a rejection of the holistic vision of an anticipatory consciousness of a utopian future. As Matthew Charles observes,

“The catastrophic signifies the dialectical intrusion of the whole of history (including the present in which it is represented) into the construction epoch, and by extension the whole of the epoch into the life of the artist, and the whole life of the artist into a particular work. Benjamin’s messianic account of the experience of truth imposes the theological concepts of the infinite, fulfilled and perfected state of the world into the immanence of finite, particular, existing phenomenon. In this way, the intrusion of the historical Absolute contributes to the catastrophic ruination of the work.”3

.
As can be seen in the Jenny Reddin’s artist statement, the whole of the artist’s history is bound up in the creation of the work. The infinite possibilities of a subjective understanding of truth are bound together with the immanence of finite, particular, existing phenomenon, that of the art of catastrophe, the objective presentation of ruination, in the art itself. Reddin’s anticipatory daydreams become an anticipatory illumination as an image, a constellation, a configuration tied closely to the idea of the concrete / fluid utopic / dystopic landscapes of the body and the earth. Reddin’s paintings work at both a macro and micro level, a phenomenon that is cross-disciplinary like the phenomenon of catastrophe itself. The work reminds me of cellular structures at the micro level (cross-sections of diseased kidneys, the veins of the heart or scientific slides of blood cells) and of aerial views of the earth at the macro level (alluvial deltas and views of open cast mines). They balance beauty with serendipity, the manipulation of the “flow” of paint (from one point in time to many points) that captures light, the light of the cosmos and of the subconscious. These magnificent works of art have emerged from the artist’s life – much as Immanuel Velikovsky argued that the planet Venus is a former “comet” which was ejected from Jupiter – in an act of catastrophic creation. They are dreaming of the future and yet also dreaming of catastrophe.

Running with these ideas you might argue that these dream images are both an act of emergence and an emergency, a catastrophe. For some thinkers the sociology of emergences aims to identify and enlarge the signs of possible future experiences, under the guise of tendencies and latencies, that are actively ignored by hegemonic rationality and knowledge. For Ernst Bloch the concept of The Not Yet, “is the way in which the future is inscribed in the present. It is not an indeterminate or infinite future, rather a concrete possibility and a capacity that neither exists in a vacuum nor are completely predetermined. Subjectively, the Not Yet is anticipatory consciousness, a form of consciousness that is extremely important in people’s lives. Objectively, the Not Yet is, on the one hand, capacity (potency) and, on the other, possibility (potentiality).”4

Here the field of possibility has a dimension of darkness (disaster) as it originates in the lived moment whilst the sociology of emergences inquires into the alternatives that are contained in the horizon of concrete, utopian possibilities in order to identify therein the tendencies of the future (the Not Yet): the light of the future. Hence these images contain both emergency (of the catastrophe, of the lived moment) and an emergence (into the future). A (bad) star is born. I also believe that in this artist another star has been born, one that will shine strongly in future dreamings.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Braga, Luciana L., Fiks, Jose P., Mari, Jair J. and Mello, Marcelo F. “The importance of the concepts of disaster, catastrophe, violence, trauma and barbarism in defining posttraumatic stress disorder in clinical practice,” in BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:68 [Online] Cited 22/09/2012
  2. Ibid.,
  3. Charles, Matthew. “The Future is History: Dreams of Catastrophe in Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin,” Proceedings of the No Future conference, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham University, 25-27 March 2011 [Online] Cited 22/09/2012
  4. Anon. “Sociology of Emergences,” on the P2P Foundation website [Online] Cited 22/09/2012

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Many thankx to Anita Traverso Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs of the paintings in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Jenny Reddin. 'Ms. Broadhurst’s Poppy' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
Ms. Broadhurst’s Poppy
2012
Oil on canvas
122 x 122cm

 

Jenny Reddin. 'A Shifting Reality' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
A Shifting Reality
2012
Mixes media on linen
137 x 122cm

 

 

At the heart of a catastrophe there is a massive burst of energy. Jenny Reddin’s works seek to capture that energy in an alchemic process that involves the dissolving of pigments in various solutions and pouring the viscous mixes onto prepared structures. Due to the varying specific gravities the pigments drop out at different rates offering alternately dry, textured or smooth, mirror-like fields. This series presents works inspired by the natural phenomenon and the interaction of the human form, capturing the juxtaposition of the beauty of the Australian country with the ongoing cycle of natural catastrophe.

Text from the gallery website

 

I have been painting for around 14 years. At a time when I should have been at Art School, I was studying for a bachelor of business. When I should have been exhibiting my work, I was running a consulting practice and managing people. It wasn’t until my husband and I adopted a little girl from India that I was able to take the time to explore my creative side. I have been painting ever since.

Catastrophe plays an important role in my life. I am an idea, act, plan person in everything I do. It’s how I live my life and it’s how I paint. I had to make a decision early on in my painting career that I either learned to celebrate the spontaneous nature of catastrophes or go mad trying to paint in a conventional manner. I found also that it was becoming increasingly important for me to find my own style and form of expression. I would cringe when people would compliment me by telling me that a work looked just like a Fred Williams or a John Olsen.

To a large extent, I have had to learn to paint from the subconscious. The more deliberate and planned I am at the commencement of a work, the less spontaneous and evocative the result. I go through what feels like long periods where the works are muddy and unsatisfying and I have to rip off the canvas and start again. I usually find when I take the time to analyse why, I have been trying to force an outcome and then all of a sudden, as my consciousness steps back and my subconscious takes over, they work.

Catastrophe is a piece that was painted early this year. It is a good example of the elements that I am looking for in my work, drama and light. The dramatic effect is created by dissolving pigments in viscous solvent solutions and then pouring them onto prepared canvas supports. I often pour two and three colours together so that they bump into each other creating riverlets and craters as the pigments drop out of solution at different rates. Light is captured by manipulating the flow of paint to trap sections of blank, white canvas which to my eye increase the sense of drama and luminance of the work.

It’s hard to say who inspires my work because I am unaware of anyone else painting in quite the same way. What I take from other artists would be honesty and integrity from artists such as Andy Goldsworthy; simplicity of form from the likes of Anthony Gormley and Antonio Tapies; the love of limited palette from Godwin Bradbeer; the beauty of gesture and rhythm from Yvonne Audette and Susan Rothenburg.

Jenny Reddin’s opening speech at the exhibition The Art of Catastrophe

 

Jenny Reddin. 'Space within space within space' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
Space within space within space
2012
Oil in linen
122 x 122cm

 

Jenny Reddin. 'Amillaria' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
Amillaria
2012
Oil on canvas
120 x 100cm

 

Jenny Reddin. 'Suspended Journey' 2012

 

Jenny Reddin
Suspended Journey
2012
Oil on linen
138 x 97cm

 

 

Anita Traverso Gallery

PO Box 7001, Hawthorn North 3122
Phone: 0408 534 034

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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28
Jun
12

Exhibition: ‘Light in Space’ by Veronica Caven Aldous at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 13th June – 30th June 2012

 

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 1' 2010-11

 

Veronica Caven Aldous (Australian, b. 1956)
Light in space 1
2010-11
A Blue field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm
B Magenta field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 59 x 3cm
C Yellow field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 30 x 3cm
D Green field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 59 x 3cm
E Orange field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm
F Purple field, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm

 

 

Apologies for the late posting but I only saw this exhibition recently. I met the artist, the delightful Veronica Caven Aldous and her work is stunning.

The works are emotive; like Brancusi’s Bird in Space they soar. Here is not the reductive coldness of a Dan Flavin but a truly hypnotic, meditative experience. The light is like visible music. I said to Veronica in my mind I have associations to the work of Josef Albers and his experiments with colour in the Homage to the Square series. But these works are uniquely her own, with their links to mysticism, India and the East.

The first series, Light in space 1, is truly beautiful as you sit watching in the darkened gallery. Still images can’t really do these vivid, liquid, mesmerising colour field sculptures justice. The second series, Light in space 2, is also intensely beautiful in a different way, the computerised light boxes contained within aluminium cases. Depending at which angle you look the depth of field of the illusion changes leading to spaces of infinite r/egress (in computer networking, egress filtering is the monitoring and/or restricting the flow of outbound information). The light is both contained and extrapolated within the grids leading to an almost Escher-like enigma of light and energy.

These are splendid works. Whenever I want to have one on my wall at home I know I have struck gold. Go see them while you still can in the last two days of the exhibition. Magic.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Veronica Caven Aldous and Stephen McLaughlan Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 1' 2010-11

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 1' 2010-11

 

Veronica Caven Aldous (Australian, b. 1956)
Light in space 1
2010-11
A Blue field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm
B Magenta field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 59 x 3cm
C Yellow field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 43 x 30 x 3cm
D Green field, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 59 x 3cm
E Orange field, 2010, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm
F Purple field, Computerised LED light boxes and Perspex, 22 x 30 x 3cm

 

 

Light from these computerised LED light boxes on the wall and floor act as intervention in space. It is not so much about the colour but the changing light in space that sets up a sense of flux. It is about change and that we see nothing without light. “The wonder of light: the universe consists mainly of invisible matter… only four to five percent of the universe is visible. 23 percent is dark matter, and 73 percent is dark energy.”

Artist statement

 

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 2' 2011

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 2' 2011

Veronica Caven Aldous. 'Light in space 2' 2011

 

Veronica Caven Aldous (Australian, b. 1956)
Light in space 2
2011
A 2 x 2, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 52 x 52 x 10cm
B 3 x 3, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 75 x 75 x 10cm
C 3 x 3, 2011, Computerised LED light boxes in metal frame, 75 x 75 x 10cm

 

 

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Level 8, Room 16, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000
On the corner of Flinders Lane
Phone: 0407 317 323

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Friday 1pm – 5pm
Saturday 11am – 5pm
and by appointment

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery website

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18
Jul
10

Text: ‘How to Understand the Light on a Landscape’ (2005) by Pablo Helguera

July 2010

 

I have managed to track down the artist and author Pablo Helguera (after I quoted his words in the review on the work of Jill Orr) and obtain permission to publish his wonderful text How to Understand the light on a Landscape taken from a video work of 2005.

Many, many thankx to Pablo Helguera for allowing my to publish the text and photographs below. The permission is truly appreciated. The text is beautiful, insightful – a must for any artist who wishes to understand the condition of light on a landscape.

Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Text and photographs © Pablo Helguera

 

“‘How to Understand the Light on a Landscape’ (video, 15 min., 2005) is a work that simulates a scientific documentary about light to discuss the experiential aspects of light as triggered by memory. The images and text below, taken from the video, are part of the book published by the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, entitled Searching for Sebald: Photography After W.G. Sebald edited by Lise Patt, 2007, pp. 110-119.”

 

 

'How to Understand the Light on a Landscape' (2005) by Pablo Helguera

 

 

“To understand is to forget about loving.”

Fernando Pessoa

 

For Luis Ignacio Helguera Soiné (1926-2005)

 

LIGHT is understood as the electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye. Yet, the precise nature of light, and the way it affects matter, is one of the key questions of modern physics.

Due to wave-particle duality, light simultaneously exhibits properties of both waves and particles that affect a physical space. There are many sources of light. A body at a given temperature will emit a characteristic spectrum known as black body radiation. The conjunction of a body present in the landscape, along with the interaction of the light in the environment, produces an effect that in modern psychology we describe as experience.

The conjunction of a random site, the accumulated data in the body’s memory that is linked to emotion, and the general behavior of light form experience. Experience is triggered by light, but not exclusively by the visible light of the electromagnetic spectrum. What the human eye is incapable to perceive is absorbed by other sensory parts of the body, which contribute to the perception that light causes an effect that goes beyond the merely visual.

In our life span, we witness only a few limited emission incidents of light that intersect with spontaneous receptivity of memory in specific places. They happen selectively and in rapid sequences, at night, when a door opens, when we are very young, when we drop off someone at the airport. They all, however, are inscribed by the behavior of light. As we age and our receptivity declines, our eyes and body become denser material through which there is a reduction of the speed of light, known as a decline in the refractive index of memory.

The extent of the breeding behavior of EXPERIENTIAL LIGHT is determined by the amount of cyclical phenomena we have experienced, such as the slight humidity that signals the transition of spring into summer. The refractive index of memory is mostly marked by the unusually happy or sad periods of our lives, and the slow decline that gradually dominates our perception. Forgetfulness gradually inhibits the experience of light, and cannot be reversed.

 

'How to Understand the Light on a Landscape' (2005) by Pablo Helguera

 

 

The glow of heaviness, commonly known as SOMBER LIGHT, appears in urban solitude and often towards the end of the day. It is a particularly cruel light to experience, as it stimulates attractive visions, like the singing of two women on a radiant evening but it then reveals hidden anxieties that we may have about the end of things, as Homer describes the fatal singing of the mermaids.

HOME LIGHT is too familiar to be seen. It is the kind of light that we first saw when we were born and we always recognize, but often take for granted. Home light is highly volatile light, and it often vanishes when it is named, as a dream that ends when we dream that we are dreaming. There is no point in explaining this light, because it is too familiar to the owner and too alien to all others. Yet a high experiential index is evident when it’s there, ready to envelop us when we encounter it again wherever we go. We can only know that we all have this kind of light in ourselves, as if in our pockets, ready to come out at a critical moment.

There is the shining of large breath, full of itself, that enters with grandeur into a landscape, uninvited, taking over the logic of everything, promoting the conjunction of belief and fragility. It creates mythologies, and the belief that there is something greater than us in a time that is ungraspable or far larger than our minuscule time in this world.

There is also a glow known as GHOST LIGHT that can only be seen, like some apparitions, in photographs, especially the snapshots taken by those who went through a long trip or extenuating circumstances in their lives, such as returning from a bloody war, escaping hunger and threat. It expresses an image of lonely liberty, where all is in order but there is little that can be enjoyed with that order, as if what happened before had affected the future of it all. It functions like a Swiss clock, harmonious but predictable.

 

There is the light of the deathbed,
that lingers on for a long time after the incident,
and often takes the appearance of a rainy day

 

There is the LIGHT OF THE DEATHBED, that lingers on for a long time after the incident, and often takes the appearance of a rainy day, even many years later, like the widow that will hold on to wearing black. It is a refracting light, the light of the permanent finality of the moment that often creates the impression of letting us know something that we didn’t know, just like an unopened letter found after many years. Its extremely old waves appear to have a cool breeze, as if ready to inspire a Flemish painting.

Those who once read long 19th century novels often recognize RAIN LIGHT. It is often seen from a train in motion, when it is arriving to a station that is not our destination, and yet we feel there is something we are leaving behind, as if we had indeed lived another life, or had developed a sense of belonging to those who we see getting off.

But there is also a tired glow on a cloudy summer afternoon right before or during lunchtime, one that emerges after strenuous work by others but that we see when we are doing nothing, or when we are resting. It is also similar to the light of the movie matinee that we see with the fascination of remembering that it is still daytime after we came from darkness. It also reminds us of food we ate a long time ago and the extinct products and fashions from the time when we were kids.

 

'How to Understand the Light on a Landscape' (2005) by Pablo Helguera

 

 

There is a PROTECTIVE LIGHT that reminds us of the womb, of the time where we were completely protected. This light inspires endless nostalgic yearning to attain that protection again. Our obsession with protective light prevents us from growing and makes us fear change. We wish we could be like that woman in a distant small city who was born, married, and died on the same street. It is true that no velocity and amount of experience can compare with the accumulated placement of experience in a single spot. But due to the impossibility of being able to replace protective light, these attempts derive in the light of the tourist, taking the same image all around the world, seeking comfort in every place when in reality there is no comfort to be had.

Another source of satisfaction is the working light that signals many events that take place on an everyday basis, like business lunches in city cafeterias, like going to the post office, like all the activity proper of the midday urban sprawl, a dynamic, powerful light, with the enthusiasm and perhaps strange mixture of happiness and melancholy we used to feel in school when we were finally off for vacations but we would not get to see our high school crush for the rest of the summer. We will know how to recognize this sunlight when we see it slowly crawl through the walls until it disappears completely.

There is of course the ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. It is a light for waiting, a transitory light that creates the impression that the actual moment doesn’t exist but rather a joining of procedures that take us from one place to another, which we call the obligations of life.

 

We wish we could be like that woman in a distant small city
who was born, married, and died on the same street.
It is true that no velocity and amount of experience can compare with
the accumulated placement of experience in a single spot.

 

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT crawls into our lives, and we tend to also see it on the outdoors, sometimes exchanging it mentally for real sunlight. It makes us feel that every place is the same to us because we are the same. Under artificial light, the strangers that we see in the street soon start looking eerily familiar to us.

This is the LIGHT OF THE TRULY BLIND, where unreality is a perfectly kept lawn, an undisturbed peace, and an organized tour to an exotic location where nothing happens. This light constructed by official human communication is an empty airport, a constant waiting room full of scheduled departures with no one in the planes and plenty of flight simulations.

There is the LIGHT OF ADOLESCENCE, a blinding light that is similar to the one we feel when we are asleep facing the sun and we feel its warmth but don’t see it directly. Sometimes it marks the unplace, perhaps the commonality of all places or perhaps, for those who are pessimists, the unplaceness of every location.

 

'How to Understand the Light on a Landscape' (2005) by Pablo Helguera

 

 

There is a SUNDAY LIGHT, profoundly euphoric and unsettling, both because it reminds us of leisure but also of Monday’s obligations; it is the one we used to read comic strips with, while eating pancakes outdoors, or go to the store to buy coffee or watch the sports on TV, a trustworthy companion light that seems to last, creating clear shadows and warmth as well as a confident sense of the present – it is the only light that we enjoy regardless of our age and never want it to ever go away.

There is a HOTEL LIGHT, of transitory nature, that generates unexpected and intense responses especially to those whose happier memories have taken place at the garden or swimming pool of a hotel. It often talks of fantasy worlds that are real just because we let ourselves fall into the fantasy they offer, parentheses of light that can well be captured in a snapshot.

Sometimes we experience the LIGHT OF THE LAST DAY, a kind of light that takes form during farewells or moments of consciousness when we know that what we are looking at that moment shall never be repeated, and that years from now we will be recalling that moment. Moments of memory that are memories even in the moments when we live them.

There is USED LIGHT, light that has been lived by others, and we are always left with the impression that we missed something important, like listening only to the very end of a certain conversation, our constant expectation of a phone call that never arrived, or the obsessive possibilities of an unrequited love.

Or the NARRATED LIGHT, the one that we only know by description and think that we recognize it when we see it when it may always be an impossibility to get a glimpse of its wilderness. It is a light of induced learning, as when we inherit memories from others to the point of believing that they are memories of our own.

And it is in this light where that which is the farthest can suddenly appear very familiar, even if we are in a medieval museum entering into the least observed gallery, when we feel that we share a private life with the people from that time and we see them in our dreams as hybrid beings of flesh and the corroded wood of a sculpted saint.

 

Sometimes we experience the light of the last day …
Moments of memory that are memories
even in the moments when we live them.

 

With this light we can also recall the thousands of pictures taken by our grandparents during their honeymoon in Europe, landscapes and sunsets accumulated in tin boxes for half a century.

Few are able to perceive TRANSPARENT LIGHT, a light that hurts for unknown reasons, perhaps because it is so clear that it allows us to see too much or because it stings our consciousness, awakening images that we may prefer to forget.

 

'How to Understand the Light on a Landscape' (2005) by Pablo Helguera

 

 

And on the other end of the spectrum, there is the AFTER LIGHT, a light of the past, which are echoes from past experiences so intense that they sometimes appear in front of us in the form of unexpected shadows. They hide on clear days under the roofs of houses. It is believed to be the same light seen by people we knew many years ago that survives like a message in a bottle, but always in a precarious way and often vanishes into thin air.

Light likes to introduce trouble and ask questions, forcing us to reconcile our thoughts and decide how we feel – our mind makes photosynthesis out of its particles and we feel we grow or diminish with it, going to sleep when there is no light, waking up when the light comes back.

But ultimately, and given that our perception is generally faulty and dependent on random associations, it is useless to try to categorize the different species of light on the basis of personal experience as we do here, or to speak about a zoology of light that results from the conjunction of landscapes and moving observers.

 

There is no spirit, but rather a weak string of perceptions,
a line of coded language that writes a book to be read only by ourselves,
and be given meaning by ourselves and to ourselves.

 

The intersection of our body with the light and the landscape and the coded form of language that we have to construct by ourselves and explain to ourselves is our daily ordeal, and we are free to choose to ignore and live without it, because there is nothing we can do with this language other than talking to ourselves. There is no point in trying to explain it to others because it is not designed to be this way, other than remaining a remote, if equivalent, language.

Some for that reason prefer to construct empty spaces with nondescript imagery, and thus be free of the seductive and nostalgic undecipherability of the landscape and the light.

Or we may choose to openly embrace the darkness of light, and thus let ourselves through the great gates of placehood, where we can finally accept the unexplainable concreteness of our moments for what they are. There is no spirit, but rather a weak string of perceptions, a line of coded language that writes a book to be read only by ourselves, and be given meaning by ourselves and to ourselves.

When we know that we can’t truly speak about what we experience, we now arrive to the edge of our understanding and the edge of our meanings. While on the other side we may encounter others to talk to, they are much farther than we think, while we are firmly set in here, holding on perhaps to one single image of which we may only continue to hope to decode its meaning up to the very last day when our memory serves our mind, and our mind serves our feelings.

Text from the Pablo Helguera Archive website 2nd October 2005 [Online] Cited 28/10/2019

 

 

Pablo Helguera Archive website

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24
Jul
09

Exhibition: ‘Focus on Color: The Photography of Jeannette Klute’ at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conneticut

Exhibition dates: 21st June – 27th September 2009

 

Many thankx to the Bruce Museum and Mike Horyczun (Director of Public Relations) for allowing me to publish the wonderful photographs below.

Marcus

 

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Cardinal Flower' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Cardinal Flower
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 1/4 x 16 1/4 in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Misty Willow' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Misty Willow
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 1/4 x 16 1/4 in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Miterwort' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Miterwort
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
14 1/8 x 11 1/4 in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George and Alexandra Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Beech Fern' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Beech Fern
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 1/4 x 16 1/4 in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Jewel Weed' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Jewel Weed
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 1/4 x 16 1/4 in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Christmas Fern' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Christmas Fern
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
12 ½ x 9 ½ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Thomsen

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George and Alexandra Stephanopoulos

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Green Grasses - blue' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Green Grasses – blue
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of Richard and Elena Pollack

 

 

The exhibition features 24 colour photographs by Jeannette Klute (1918-2009) drawn from more than fifty of her prints held in the Bruce Museum’s permanent collection. Ranging from landscapes to intimate “woodland portraits” of orchids, ferns, and trees, Jeannette Klute’s photographs of New England are vibrant compositions produced through the labour intensive dye transfer process.

Trained at the Rochester Institute of Technology through the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, Jeanette Klute worked extensively on perfecting the dye transfer process, a laborious photographic technique that allowed for rich colours in exceptionally permanent prints. Klute tested and refined this process at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, beginning her career as photographic illustrator to physicist Ralph M. Evans and ascending to research photographer in charge of the Visual Research Studio of the Color Control Division.

Klute’s photography merged environmental consciousness with cutting edge technology. Using only natural light and leaving a minimal impact on the environment, she spent many years investigating colour and demonstrating the capabilities of dye transfer by photographing nature. Her work resulted in some of the finest examples of colour printing and all of its capabilities.

“My purpose has been to somehow express the feeling one experiences being out of doors,” Ms. Klute wrote for her Woodland Portraits exhibition. “I am concerned with the delight to the senses as much as with the intellectual. The woods are mystical and enchanting to me as well as spiritual.”

Jeanette Klute’s work was featured in Edward Steichen’s 1950 exhibition All Color Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, and her large one-woman shows were circulated internationally by the Smithsonian Institution and Kodak International. She was also invited to submit work for the San Francisco Museum of Art’s landmark exhibition Women of Photography: An Historical Survey in 1975.

Text from the Bruce Museum website [Online] Cited 

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Maple Tree - red leaves' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Maple Tree – red leaves
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of LeGrand Belnap

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Frosted Tree' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Frosted Tree
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of Richard and Elena Pollack

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009) 'Yellow Lady's Slipper' Nd (early-mid 1950s)

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Yellow Lady’s Slipper
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of LeGrand Belnap

 

 

“The first month they were sending people out for job interviews, but not me,” she recalled in a speech at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984. “I asked how come? The head of the department said, ‘Oh, there are no jobs for women in photography.’ My world fell apart.”

Ms. Klute took it upon herself to go out for interviews, and every week on her day off, she walked to the offices of Eastman Kodak Co. to ask for a job. For a long time, she never made it past the personnel office. Then, one day, in the pouring rain, decked in her finest navy blue suit, she stalked to the offices and was sent straight to the sixth floor for an interview.

“The man took a look at me with the rain dripping off my hat and said, ‘If you want a job that bad, you’ve got it,'” she recalled. “There was a celebration in the neighbourhood that night.” …

“She was really like my college education,” said Barbara Erbland, who assisted Ms. Klute in the lab at Kodak for many years. “She taught me everything – about light, colour, about people … how to live well.” … “Her lab consisted of all women,” she said. “I think it was by intention. She believed women had brains. We worked very well together.” …

Lugging a 4-by-5 Graflex single-lens reflex camera wherever they went, Erbland ventured into swamps and tide pools… “She taught me you don’t make do, you make things happen,” said Erbland. “You’re not a victim.”

Back in Rochester, the two sought out swamps and woodland for Ms. Klute to take her photographs – or, as she put it, to “make pictures.”

PHOTO GALLERY: In memory of Jeannette Klute, a ‘Renaissance woman’, by Philip Anselmo, August 2009

 

Jeannette Klute. 'Grape Leaves' nd

 

Jeannette Klute (American, 1918-2009)
Grape Leaves
Nd (early-mid 1950s)
Dye transfer photograph
20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection
Gift of George Stephanopoulos

 

 

Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Last admission 4:30pm
Closed Monday and major holidays

Bruce Museum website

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19
Jun
09

Exhibition: Scott McFarland photographs at Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 23rd May – 3rd July 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Fallen Oak Tree' 2008

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Fallen Oak Tree
2008
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 24 inches (68.6 x 61 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

Variations on a theme

Whether McFarland’s photographs are “straight” or composites, there always seems to an unnerving feel to them, a formal frontality that empowers the viewer into trying to unlock the photographs secret, like an enigmatic puzzle. Everything is presented front on, square to the camera, no oblique angles, relying in the straight photographs on the scale of the accumulated blocks of information, and in the composites, in the very unlikely, even theatrical, staging of the people within the mise en scène.

These are very cinematic photographs, some, literally, with their panoramic aesthetic, others built by assembling their scudding skies and stiff, neatly placed people. Too neatly placed in my opinion but that’s McFarland’s hook, his aesthetic cough which prompts the viewer to question the veracity of the image, its link to the photographs indexical reality. His multiple exposures push the boundaries of truth or dare, hyperreal solutions to a disengaged world. Personally, I prefer his straight photographs which are built on a fabulous eye, a masterful understanding of pictorial space (monumental elements held in balance) and wonderful previsualisation. You don’t need anything more.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Regen Projects for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Admiral's House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Admiral’s House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

 

“Regen Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Canadian artist Scott McFarland. This exhibition will feature new photographs including 3 large panorama works, smaller works from the “Hampstead” series, and introduce the new “Niagara” series.

Scott McFarland’s photography reconsiders the traditional concept of a photograph as the depiction of a single captured moment in time. Through digital means he is able to manipulate composition, colour, light, space, shape, and form. McFarland’s photographs combine multiple negatives to represent simultaneous temporalities and interweave selected elements into a cohesive whole. Several different moments are packed into what appears to be one densely constructed instant. The photographs are meticulously crafted illusions created within the formal language of documentary photography.

McFarland’s consideration of photography and the built picture was brought about by the artist’s own understanding of the artificial “nature” found in built environments such as gardens and zoos. Taking the relationship of the constructed space/constructed image one step further, McFarland has photographed a modernist architectural landmark: the Berthold Lubetkin designed penguin pool at the London zoo. Through two very distinct works, McFarland investigates the elliptical structure of the famous penguin pool vis-à-vis the elliptical/arcing motion of his camera rotating on a tripod. One photograph is an objective colour rendering where the camera has been left level while rotating; the other is a larger black and white version where the camera arcs along a non-level plane distorting and altering the curve of the structure from right to left.

The new square format photographs from McFarland’s “Niagara” series have a rough unfinished quality unlike any photographs he has taken to date. These softer focus images with odd shifts in light and glare are location studies for the large panorama A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario (2009, below). This work depicts an old carriage business and its surroundings during the dead of Canadian winter. In this visually captivating work, a black funeral carriage contrasts against the white snow. The acreage, surrounded by newer suburban homes, evokes the question of how long can this structure resist the modern urban pressures it faces. These straight photographs presented alongside his precise digitally mastered compositions illustrate how the photographic process and the history of art and photography have always informed McFarland’s work.

“Over the last decade, Scott McFarland has produced bodies of work that engage with different aspects of photography … McFarland’s approach is both descriptive and metaphoric … The images, rich in cultural significance, express the complementary workings of conceptual and aesthetic factors all the while holding various characteristics of art and photography in ambiguous relation.”

Andrea Kunard. Scott McFarland: A Cultivated View, published by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2009, p. 12.

Text from the Regen Projects press release [Online] Cited 16/06/2009 no longer available online.

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario' 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
2009
From the series Niagara
Inkjet print
59.5 x 124 inches (151.1 x 315 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Boathouse with Moonlight' 2002

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Boathouse with Moonlight
2002
From the series Boathouse
Digital C-print
71 x 91 inches (180 x 231 cm)
Edition of 5, 2 AP

 

 

“Boathouse with Moonlight” is an exploration of the technical advancements afforded by digital photography, created by assembling multiple exposures taken over the space of two hours under the light of a full moon. Unlike traditional photography, this image does not represent one specific moment captured at a particular site; rather, it shows an accumulation of moments that have been manipulated and layered to create a revised version of the boathouse and its surroundings. McFarland’s use of multiple exposures to produce the final image emphasises not only the duration of the photographic act, but also the many facets of the boathouse’s character. This type of building on British Columbia’s “Sunshine Coast” is disappearing with the construction of new, suburban-style retirement housing.

Text from the National Gallery of Canada website [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
29 x 45 inches (73.7 x 114.3 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland. 'Inspecting, Allan O'connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea' 2003

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Inspecting, Allan O’connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea
2003
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
40 x 48 inches (102 x 122 cm)
Edition of 7

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)' 2003-2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)
2003-2006
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
42 x 122 inches (106.7 x 309.9 cm)
Edition of 3

 

Scott McFarland. 'Empire' 2005

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
[Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2005
From the series Empire
Inkjet print

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Echinocactus grusonii' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Echinocactus grusonii [Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2006
From the series Empire
Inkjet print
24.5 X 27.5 inches (62 X 70 cm)
Edition of 3
Private collection/Vancouver Art Gallery

 

 

This picture comes from Empire, a series on desert vegetation shot in the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. Henry E. Huntington, an art collector who made his fortune building railroads, founded the garden in 1919.

“The plantings [of the garden] are dense, and the soil is mostly hidden beneath the thriving vegetation,” writes Grant Arnold in a catalogue essay for the exhibition, “the fullness of the planting continually reminding the visitor of Huntington’s beneficence.” To many gallery visitors, however, these images of lush desert vegetation will simply be appealing to the eye.

Kevin Chong. “A different way of seeing,” on the CBC News website November 13, 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden
2006
Inkjet print
43 x 62 inches (109.2 x 157.5 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

At first the photograph appeared to be a simple scene, one of no importance. The two young children, obviously related based on their similar physical features, seemed a bit awkward and posed, but otherwise, I thought it to be a snapshot, much like the one I took of the bowl while in Berlin. Upon learning how McFarland created this and many of his other photographs, I learned how complex of a scene this really is. McFarland uses multiple negatives, often taken over a matter of days, weeks, and even months, and combines them digitally into a seamless print. His interest is in breaking through the concept of a photograph being an image of a single instant in time and space.

A fuller narrative is created as well. With just one negative, there may only be one or two people depicted. We may just have the dog with his owner half shown, or even only half of the brother-sister group. But by overlapping the various negatives, Mr McFarland manipulates his work into a greater piece. We can now ask ourselves, why are the brother and sister so psychologically distant? Or, who is the small girl with the accordion and where is her mother? Is her mother the woman with the baby carriage? How long has that man been sleeping under the bowl? These are all questions that can be asked together because the negatives are combined that couldn’t be asked if we had just the single frame.

Jason Hosford. “Scott McFarland’s The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garten,” on the West L’Art website June 24, 2007 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

With the stiff figures of a historical painting, Scott McFarland’s View of Vale of Health, Looking Towards Hampstead muddles ideas of what’s real and what’s not.

From the get-go, painting and photography have been inextricably bound together. The Pictorialists tried to make their photographs look like paintings. The Futurists, in their paintings, mimicked the blurred and segmented movement found in Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotographs. The photorealists created paintings whose subject was the photograph itself. And in his large-scale, backlit photo-transparencies, Jeff Wall has alluded to paintings by Nicolas Poussin, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne, among others. The digital age has done nothing to diminish each medium’s obsession with the other.

This continued entwining of art forms is evident in Scott McFarland’s computer-montaged photographs, on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery. So is the parallel entanglement of nature and culture. Both conditions are conspicuous in his 2006 series, “Hampstead”, inspired by the landscapes of the early-19th-century English painter John Constable. McFarland’s colour photos, shot in various locations around London’s immense Hampstead Heath, pay homage to Constable’s attraction to the same place. They also play variations on that painter’s rendering of multiple versions of the same scene, and on his open-air studies of the changing effects of light and weather. …

Over the past decade, McFarland’s working methods have changed from straightforward analog photography to the creation of highly manipulated images in which he digitally splices together multiple segments of the same landscape or structure, shot over a period of days, weeks, or even months. In both variations of Orchard View With the Effects of the Seasons, for instance, the blossoms and foliage of spring, summer, and fall are contained within the same seamless panorama.

The digital assist means that there are no constraints of time, space, or documentary veracity in McFarland’s work: he can build whatever impossible pictures he wants and they will look “real”. At least until they’re closely scrutinised, revealing incongruities of light, shadow, time, and figuration. In this sense, his art challenges our understanding of the nature of the photograph and its relationship with the truth. There’s nothing really new about this project – as long as photography’s been around, it’s been manipulated by its practitioners. Photoshop, however, has added a vast digital dimension to the darkroom antics of earlier photo artists.

Robin Laurence. “Scott McFarland makes impossible pictures real at the Vancouver Art Gallery,” on the Georgia Straight website October 7th 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

 

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 – 6pm

Regen Project website

Scott McFarland website

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18
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Light Years: Photography and Space’ at the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th May – 27th September 2009

 

A small but fun show at NGV International, Melbourne that is drawing in the crowds. A selection of beautiful, breathtaking images from NASA really takes you into space. I had a great time researching and finding some of the images from the exhibition on the NASA Image and Video Library website!

Marcus

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension … and a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”

.
Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948

 

“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.”

.
John Dewey, 1859-1952, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer

 

 

Neil Armstrong. 'Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Neil Armstrong (American 1930-2012, photographer)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)
1969

Note the reflection of the shadow of the astronaut, the photographer and the leg of the LM in the visor of Buzz Aldrin.

 

 

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module LM pilot, walks near the module as a picture is taken of him. Discoloration is visible on his boots and suit from the lunar soil adhering to them. Reflection of the LM and Astronaut Niel A. Armstrong is visible in Aldrin’s helmet visor. Image taken at Tranquility Base during the Apollo 11 Mission. Original film magazine was labeled S. Film Type: Ektachrome EF SO168 color film on a 2.7-mil Estar polyester base taken with a 60mm lens. Sun angle is Medium. Tilt direction is Northeast NE.

Text from the NASA archives website

 

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, stands on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module, Eagle, during the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the lunar module to explore the Sea of Tranquility, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained in lunar orbit with the Command and Service Module, Columbia. This is the actual photograph [above] as exposed on the moon by Armstrong. He held the camera slightly rotated so that the camera frame did not include the top of Aldrin’s portable life support system (“backpack”). A communications antenna mounted on top of the backpack is also cut off in this picture. When the image was released to the public, it was rotated clockwise to restore the astronaut to vertical for a more harmonious composition, and a black area was added above his head to recreate the missing black lunar “sky”. The edited version [below] is the one most commonly reproduced and known to the public, but the original version, above, is the authentic exposure. A full explanation with illustrations can be seen at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

Text from the Wikipedia website. Image from the NASA website.

 

Neil Armstrong (American, 1930-2012 photographer) 'Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Neil Armstrong (American, 1930-2012 photographer)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)
1969
Colour transparency
50.8 × 40.6 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

In 1948, the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle speculated that “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension … and a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” Hoyle encapsulated the immense anticipation that was felt in the mid-twentieth century, when the idea of leaving Earth and viewing it from afar was on the verge of becoming reality.

When astronauts and spacecraft began exploring our solar system, it was the photographs from these voyages which visualised the reality of the epic feats of science, engineering and human imagination. These photographs transcended a strictly scientific purpose and depicted scenes of unexpected and sublime beauty.

This exhibition brings together works from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria that depict space travel, seen in archival images from NASA, space allegories, and altered perceptions of reality inspired by ideas of science and space. These photographs also show a fascination with light, as both the means and the subject of the image.

The exhibition focuses largely on the 1960s and 1970s – an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. These were ‘light years’, in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions.

Text from the NGV International website

 

Ronnie Van Hout (New Zealander, 1962-, worked in Australia 1998-) 'Visitation' 1992

 

Ronnie Van Hout (New Zealander, 1962-, worked in Australia 1998-)
Visitation
1992
from the Untitled series 1992
Gelatin silver photograph
31.8 × 47.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1996
© Ronnie van Hout

 

 

The work is from van Hout’s Untitled 1992 series. It comprises images made by photographing still life constructed from small scale models. The series is based upon B-grade 1950s and 1960s science fiction films. The photographs in the series show a single word, encapsulating an essential element of the story and constructed in 3-D text, placed within a barren / lunar model landscape.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

In his Untitled series, 1992, Ronnie van Hout created models based on the mountains in New Zealand, shown as the sun was setting and they fell into silhouette, and placed a single word (‘rejoice’ or ‘visitation’) in the foreground. The influence of 1960s sci-fi aesthetics is clearly evident in the glowing lights, the desolate ground, and the potential for an otherworldly experience. As with much science fiction, van Hout’s photographs create ambiguous narratives that allude to alien visitation set in a mystical landscape.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Raymond De Berquelle. 'Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)' 1968

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- )
Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
24.1 × 19.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2008
© Raymond de Berquelle

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- ) 'Space man' 1963

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- )
Space man
1963
Gelatin silver photograph
49.8 × 41.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1971
© Raymond de Berquelle

 

 

The photographs of Raymond de Berquelle reflect excitement about the possibilities of astronomy and a fascination for science fiction. The radio telescope was a particularly significant emblem of the exploration of the universe. The primary tool of astronomy, it allowed astronomers to see beyond visible light into the expansive electromagnetic spectrum. De Berquelle frequently visited observatories and radio telescopes, including the one at Parkes, outside Canberra, that was one of a network of radio antennas around the world used to receive images from the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969.

To create the fantastical photograph, Space man, Raymond de Berquelle combined different negatives to construct an image that expressed both his expectations of astronomy and his vision of a man in space. De Berquelle describes the process as beginning with an unexpected vision:

[one day] a radio telescope appeared on the horizon with a human being clinging to it as if caught in its net. It was a technician [working on] the huge instrument. In the darkroom later on the negative appeared stronger than the positive image … and an earthy radio telescope technician became a space man.

.
Raymond de Berquelle in correspondence with Maggie Finch, 12 November 2008, quoted in Maggie Finch, Light Years: Photography and space (exh. cat.), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2009, p. 18.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

John Wilkins. 'Alien Icicle' c. 1970

 

John Wilkins (Australian, 1946- )
Alien Icicle
c. 1970
Gelatin silver photograph on composition board
57.6 × 46.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1971
© John Wilkins

 

 

The photograms of John Wilkins reveal methods of abstraction and distortion (the hallmarks of psychedelia) to produce lush, exploding, organic forms. Wilkins uses the photogram technique to record the object (in this case, liquid) directly onto film, which was later enlarged and printed. Wilkins’s photographs resemble cosmic worlds, and he has described how the chemical patterns were directly influenced by the psychedelic patterns meant to simulate LSD trips that were projected onto the walls of nightclubs in the 1960s and 1970s. They possess a mysterious quality that transcends a distinction between art and science.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016) 'Energy bubble' 1966

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016)
Energy bubble
1966
Cibachrome photograph
24.0 × 34.6 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1972
© George F. Pollock

 

 

“Light is the energy that maintains life on earth, through the plants’ marvellous process of photosynthesis: no light, no plants; no plants, no animals, and no us. This is the secret of life, and I want to celebrate this life-giving energy in images of, about, and made by light, in other words in photographs.”

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Sir George Pollock, 2009

 

Space exploration opened up new ways of seeing and imagining the world and created new perceptions of our place in the universe.

Parallel to the exploration of outer space taking place under the auspices of science, explorations of space in other realms were contributing to new and altered perceptions of the world, and inspiring new forms of art and artmaking.

During the second half of the twentieth century, many artists rejected the illusionistic representation of three-dimensional space and form which had dominated western art for centuries and opted for a flattened pictorial space. In contrast to the closed compositions traditionally found in western art, artists such as Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–56) worked with ‘open compositions’ which created the idea that the visual elements in an image extended beyond the confines of the picture space.

The mysterious world of ‘inner space’, including the subconscious, and the senses, was also important territory for exploration, especially within the ‘hippie’ subculture that emerged in the US in the mid-1960s. Psychedelic patterns, inspired by the hallucinations and mind-altering experiences produced by drugs such as LSD, and characterised by wild patterning and colours and dazzling light effects, had a significant effect on the art and popular culture of the period.

In 1962, English artist George Pollock commenced a conceptual photographic project comprising a series of abstract photographs that he called ‘vitrographs’. This term referred to the process of creating images by photographing pieces of glass that have been lit by a number of coloured lights. Pollock used pieces of cullet, the thick lumps of glass left in a kiln at the end of a melt.

By lighting the cullet from different angles and photographing the pieces at close range, Pollock was able to produce patterned, abstract images with an ethereal quality reminiscent of solar eruptions and the nebulae of outer space.

Pollock was influenced by scientific studies, particularly in the field of biology, as well as the literature of science fiction and the abstraction found in the art of surrealism and abstract expressionism. He was interested in using photography to reveal things that otherwise may have been overlooked.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016) 'Galactic event' 1966

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016)
Galactic event
1966
Cibachrome photograph
34.3 × 24.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1972
© George F. Pollock

 

 

A significant number of the works in Light Years: Photography and space have been acquired by the NGV from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The United States government established NASA on 29 July 1958 as the agency responsible for the development of the nation’s new space program.

The 1950s and 1960s were a period of intense activity in space exploration, led by the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The US and the Soviet Union emerged as the two most powerful forces in the world after the Second World War. During the Cold War that followed, these two superpowers competed for political, military and scientific dominance, fuelling a ‘space race’. The space race effectively began when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik 1, on 4 October 1957, and reached a milestone when NASA succeeded in landing humans on the moon on 20 July 1969 (in Australia, 21 July 1969).

The Apollo missions, in particular the Apollo 11 mission of 1969 that saw Neil Armstrong become the first man to step foot on the moon, have assumed enormous importance in the popular imagination in relation to space travel.

However, since the late 1950s NASA has been involved in many different projects, involving numerous manned and unmanned missions. These projects have ranged from exploring Earth’s orbit and mapping the lunar surface to penetrating greater and greater distances into space and exploring other planets in our solar system, including Mars, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. These missions played a critical role in extending our knowledge of the solar system.

While information and photographs of the Russian space program were closely guarded and rarely released to the public, NASA strategically managed the publication of images drawn from its vast photographic archive, and this had a very positive impact on the public reception of the space program.

Interestingly, it was not a priority in the early days of NASA to take photographs during missions. However, the importance of photography was soon recognised and, along with rigorous flight training, astronauts who piloted the various space missions were given extensive photographic training. Unmanned probes were equipped with remotely operated cameras, allowing those back on Earth to see details of these voyages. Increasingly sophisticated technology, including advanced imaging techniques such as X-ray, ultraviolet and infrared photography, has also been employed to capture different phenomena.

The photographs in this exhibition include images taken on manned and unmanned space voyages, from the Gemini space walks of 1965 to the Pioneer missions of 1979.

While these space photographs clearly serve a documentary purpose and are a tool of scientific research, they have a unique beauty and evoke something of the mystery and wonder of space.

The NGV acquired the NASA space photographs in two groups, the first in 1971 and the second in 1980. The acquisition submission of 1980, prepared by the former Curator of Photography, Jennie Boddington, noted:

Apart from the considerations of technology one cannot help but speculate on the philosophical and metaphysical questions which spring to mind when one sees so beautifully presented the form of nebulae which may be light years away from our small earth, or when we see spacemen performing strange exercises in a Skylab.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

James McDivitt (American, 1929- , photographer) 'Astronaut Edward H. White, Gemini 4, June 1965' 1965

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
James McDivitt (American, 1929- , photographer)
Astronaut Edward H. White, Gemini 4, June 1965
1965
Type C photograph laminated on aluminium
39.0 × 49.1 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

This photograph by astronaut James McDivitt is taken from inside the spacecraft on the Gemini 4 mission as it orbited Earth. It shows astronaut Edward White in his spacesuit and golden visor, ‘floating’ high above the Pacific Ocean. White is attached to the spacecraft by a twisting eight-metre tether and holds a manoeuvring unit. Below him is the extraordinary vision of the vivid blue curvature of Earth and, beyond, the black abyss of deep space.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Apollo 12. 'View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Apollo 12 (photographer)
View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)
[Astronaut inspecting Surveyor 3, Unmanned craft resting on moon since April 1967]
1969
Gelatin silver photograph
49.0 × 39.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

This unusual photograph, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA), shows two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module (LM) is in the background. The unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft is in the foreground. The Apollo 12 LM, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr. and Alan L. Bean aboard, landed about 600 feet from Surveyor 3 in the Ocean of Storms. The television camera and several other pieces were taken from Surveyor 3 and brought back to Earth for scientific examination. Here, Conrad examines the Surveyor’s TV camera prior to detaching it. Astronaut Richard F. Gordon Jr. remained with the Apollo 12 Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Conrad and Bean descended in the LM to explore the moon. Surveyor 3 soft-landed on the moon on April 19, 1967.

Text from the NASA Image and Video Library website

 

Charles Conrad. 'Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Charles Conrad (American, photographer)
Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon
1969
Gelatin silver photograph
49.0 x 39.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

Apollo 8 crew (photographer) 'The Earth showing Southern Hemisphere' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Apollo 8 crew (photographer)
The Earth showing Southern Hemisphere
1969
Type C photograph
48.9 × 38.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

Project Apollo (1968-72) sent astronauts greater distances from Earth in the quest to land humans on the Moon. The further they travelled also, crucially, allowed for more complete photographic views of Earth. In this photograph, Earth is shown as a delicate, blue, cloud-covered dot hanging in infinite space.

The spectacle of Earth suspended in a black void had a profound effect on humanity. Earth was no longer seen to be our complete ‘world’ but was recognised as a small planet spinning in the solar system. As awareness of the vulnerability and limits of the planet grew, photographs such as this one formed a strong catalyst for environmental movements.

Photographs from the Apollo missions were also used to promote the inaugural Earth Day on 22 April 1970.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Photo collage of Jupiter and its four largest moons; from early March Voyager I photos' 1979

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Voyager 1 (photographer)
Photo collage of Jupiter and its four largest moons; from early March Voyager I photos
1979
Type C photograph
51.0 x 40.5 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

While Jupiter had been studied through telescopes for centuries, the Voyager robotic probes that were launched into space in 1977 revealed new information about the planet and its moon system. In March 1979, the Voyager 1 mission took images of the four largest moons of Jupiter. These images were made into a photographic collage, so that the moons are seen in their relative positions (although not to scale). NASA’s arrangement of images in this montage (and others) essentially created an aesthetic rendering of scientific reality.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Pioneer 11. 'Image of Saturn and it's Moon Titan' 1979

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Pioneer 11
 (photographer)
Image of Saturn and it’s moon Titan

1979
Type C photograph
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

Light Years: Photography and Space will feature around 50 works drawn entirely from the NGV Collection. Focusing largely on the 1960s and ’70s, the exhibition will include photographs taken during early NASA missions. The exhibition celebrates the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk.

Maggie Finch, Assistant Curator, Photography, NGV said that cameras were used to give form to both the fantasies and realities of space travel, revealing extra dimensions and animating space.

“The 1960s and ’70s were an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. They were ‘light years’ in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions. The photographs in ‘Light Years’ represent a giant leap forward in the collective journey into space. They retain the extraordinary sense of awe and wonderment that encapsulates our first encounters with a larger universe,” said Ms Finch.

A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of more than 30 NASA photographs, on display for the first time in over twenty years. Among the NASA selection are many celebrated space photographs, including the iconic image of Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr standing on the lunar surface, taken in 1969 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the Moon.

These remarkable photographs will be on display alongside works by Sir George Pollock, John Wilkins Raymond de Berquelle, Dacre Stubbs, Val Foreman, Susan Fereday, Olive Cotton and Ronnie van Hout – artists who have been inspired by, and have responded to, the mysteries of space and science.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The photography from the NASA missions of the 1960s and ’70s has a fascinating yet nostalgic quality, particularly when one considers the advances in both science and photographic technology since that time. These early photographs of space changed our awareness and offered a new understanding of the Earth, the universe and our shared existence within it. Coinciding with the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk, this exhibition will delight viewers, providing a glimpse into another dimension,” said Ms Lindsay.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate effects of weightlessness' 1973

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Skylab (photographer)
Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate effects of weightlessness
1973
Type C photograph
40.5 x 49.9 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973' 1973

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Skylab (photographer)
Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973
1973
Colour transparency
50.8 × 40.6 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

This photograph of the sun, taken on Dec. 19, 1973, during the third and final manned Skylab mission (Skylab 4), shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded, spanning more than 588,000 kilometers (365,000 miles) across the solar surface. The last picture, taken some 17 hours earlier, showed this feature as a large quiescent prominence on the eastern side of the sun. The flare gives the distinct impression of a twisted sheet of gas in the process of unwinding itself. Skylab photographs such quiescent features erupt from the sun. In this photograph the solar poles are distinguished by a relative absence of supergranulation network, and a much darker tone than the central portions of the disk. Several active regions are seen on the eastern side of the disk. The photograph was taken in the light of ionised helium by the extreme ultraviolet spectroheliograph instrument of the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

Text from the NASA Image and Video Library website

 

 

National Gallery of Victoria International
180, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10 – 5pm every day

NGV International website

All NASA images are from the NASA Image and Video Library website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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