Sunday, October 24, 2010
In the Summer of 1989, I left my father’s home, which was never my home, not after my mother died. I couldn’t stand it there, in my father’s home, in the dark there, with the recessed windows and the ceilings, so low I used to bang my head on the doorjambs. The smell was what really used to get to me, as if it had seeped into the stone floors.
Child of an unfortunate father.
In the Summer of 1989, I left my father’s home, which was no longer my home. I left for Liverpool, knowing that I would only be there a few months, until I went north to university in October. I had no job and no money, but an older friend had just bought a gutted house that he was planning to renovate. I could stay there in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
A delicate appeal for a small temporary accommodation.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Many photographers claim to gain access to a hidden reality that exists behind ‘mere’ appearance, to isolate or to capture something essential about a particular individual, place or situation. When it is put in these terms, this attempt seems misguided. By definition photography is confined to the depiction of surfaces. It cannot get behind or penetrate inside things (X-rays notwithstanding). It cannot show you what is essential as a painting can, though it may show you what is typical.
The affinity of photographs for surfaces is to do with the fact that they are themselves surfaces marked by the action of light, but we are often encouraged to forget this. Certain characteristics of photographs make it easy for us to do so. For a start, they are flat, textureless. Unlike a painting, on which brush strokes are visible, they show little direct evidence of their own production. This aspect of the photograph is often turned into a point of principle. For example, it is one of the mantras of Lenswork magazine that A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print. And with a digital photograph, there is no apparent need for a physical surface at all. Once it has been created, the image can thereafter remain entirely immaterial.
But surely a photograph that does not admit to its status as a photograph is as bad as a photograph that is pretending to be a painting? Both are guilty of bad faith. In any case, my point here is that the insistence that photographs can depict an essence that somehow goes beyond their literal content is logically linked with the repression of their status as marked surfaces.
To admit this status is not to say that photographs are meaningless. On the contrary, to take a photograph is to assert that meaning is legible on surfaces. What the photograph actually does is to deny and exclude all claims to meaning that cannot be read there. In a photograph, you are what you do, or rather, you are what you look like. Many people find this disturbing (especially when they do not recognize the self presented to them by a photograph), but it might equally be considered liberating. In other words, photographers are natural existentialists.
This image comments on the obsession with getting beyond or under surfaces. The fact that it uses pronounced foreshortening is part of the joke. I like to think of it as an anatomical illustration of the city with its skin stripped off, exposing the musculature – and it is in modern medicine that the association of understanding with penetration is at its strongest. Or alternatively, the pipes are the city’s intestines, a reminder that Venice’s canals were an early and ingenious solution to the problem of sewage disposal in Western cities.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Details are below:
Wednesday 20 October 2010
5.45 – 7.15 pm
McArthur Gallery, State Library of Victoria, Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD
(Directions to the McArthur Gallery at the SLV: walk through main ground-floor reading room, take the stairs adjacent to central lifts to Cowen Painting Gallery [level 2A], walk straight across into the Redmond Barry Reading room, then look right for the double glass doors "Maps, Rare Books etc." If any problems, ask staff on the main reference desk)
Attendance is free and everyone is welcome.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
VE1 Tristram Shandy from Visual Editions on Vimeo.
Visual Editions manifesto:
We think that books should be as visually interesting as the stories they tell; with the visual feeding into and adding to the storytelling as much as the words on the page. We call it visual writing. And our strap line is “Great looking stories.”