Author Archives: John

Exhibition half-way through its month of weekends

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No reality was hurt in the making of this photograph. No CGI, no Photoshop.

Unlike the warnings which annotate everyday life (“may contain nuts”, “do not attempt at home”…) this is a promise: No reality was hurt in the making of the photographs in this exhibition. No CGI (computer-generated imagery), no Photoshop.

In the 20th Century, Susan Sontag reminded us that we understood a photograph to be of something that did or does exist, no matter what lenses, filters, or films were deployed to transformed it. Whereas a painting had no necessary connection to the real. As Roland Barthes succinctly put it: “A photograph is always invisible; it is not it that we see.”

In the 21st Century we have all learned to perceive differently. While we still look through the photograph in front of us, we no longer believe it must portray a solid reality. Today, it is not the KGB expert’s unusual skill which eliminates a discredited enemy from the politburo photograph. We can each remove the whole crowd on the beach around our beloved, with the simple touch of a Photoshop finger.

Forty-five years ago, Sontag wrote “A faked painting (with false attribution) falsifies the history of art. A faked photograph (retouched or tampered with) falsifies reality.”

We see a quite different world now. Yet the photograph remains ‘invisible,’ is looked through, not at.

My current work explores this central paradox of photography: and the difficulty of seeing what is in front of the eyes. There is too much reality out there. As we move through the world, we tend to edit out much of what is actually in front of us. I am not interested in post-click, electronic manipulation: here is what I see.

Does the distinction between the real and unreal, the true and fake, matter at all?   Are they not just flat images of more or less visual interest?

Ah yes, but what the caption “this is a real photograph” is saying is: “Look! This is what you too see, if you open your eyes.”

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Exhibition 2018: a little gallery of selfies?

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Exhibition 2018: a little gallery through a glass, darkly

Are not all photographs self portraits, in fact? Seeing both, sees much more…

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Ceci est une vraie photo

My little exhibition of photographs opens in Cividale on 9th June (at weekends for a month) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike the warnings which annotate everyday life (“may contain nuts”, “do not attempt at home”…) this is a promise: No reality was hurt in the making of this photograph. No CGI (computer-generated imagery), no Photoshop.     

(No lung damage will result from smoking: Ceci n’est pas une pipe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I can find a moment I will put up gallery or two of these new images during June

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Is not every photograph a self portrait?

My little exhibition of photographs opens in Cividale on 9th June (at weekends for a month) 

Unlike the warnings which annotate everyday life (“may contain nuts”, “do not attempt at home”…) this is a promise: No reality was hurt in the making of this photograph. No CGI (computer-generated imagery), no Photoshop.     

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Both/and is the real world we neglect for either/or

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The Impossibility of Truly Seeing….

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But what IS in front of the eyes?

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Cognoscenti 122: Keeping their secrets in Urbino Palazzo Ducale

straining to imagine the key door in Palazzo Ducale Urbino

Deep inside Federigo di Montefeltro’s palace, in that extraordinarily condensed, triangular, liminal world created by turning away from the rectilinear Renaissance calm, for its balconies to face the road to Rome, lie all the secrets of that duke’s cosmos.  

The studiolo, the double chapels to the muses and to god, these are well known. But that which might hold the best key to this amazing late 15th century world, is a pair of doors of beautifully made intarsia, every panel as slightly different as phases of the moon, and each constructed with the most precise and intentional geometry – this is no mere decoration.

Today, while all admire the brilliant perspective projections and the technical mastery of inlaid wood, images of instruments (Francesco di Giorgio?) or squirrels (Botticelli?), these doors are virtually invisible and, as far as I could see last week, without any caption.

Their ‘pictorial’ side – with caged birds and a chiming clock (above left) – is displayed, but the enigmatic, coded side which might help unlock that world for us, is barely visible and only by squeezing a camera round and photographing them in a mirror.

35 years ago, when we could touch such things, I remember an ILAUD student being able to make precise measured drawings and then enthral us with his arcane geometrical attempt to unravel their secrets.

 

29 September 2017 

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