Transparencies

I think there’s a basic fascination in technology which derives from the fact that there’s always a hidden space–a control room, a projection booth, a source of light of some kind — from which the image comes. A painting on canvas, no matter how good it is, is to our eyes more or less flat, or at least flatter than the luminescent image of cinema, television, or the transparencies […]

The luminescent image is fascinating because it’s lit with another atmosphere. So two atmospheres intersect to make the image. One of them, the hidden one, is more powerful than the other. In a painting, for example, the source or the site of the image is palpably in front of you. You can actually touch the place where the image comes from, where it is. But in a luminescent picture the source of the image is hidden and the thing is a dematerialized or semi-dematerialized projection. The site from which the image originates is always elsewhere. And this “elsewhere” is experienced, maybe consciously, maybe not, in experiencing the image.

Rimbaud said “Existence is elsewhere”, and Malevich once wrote, “Only that which cannot be touched can be sacred”. To me, this experience of two places, two worlds, in one moment is a central form of the experience of modernity.

Jeff Wall — Introduction to Transparencies

I spent the weekend re-styling much of this site. In the process, I’ve been trading design thoughts with Simon Manchipp over at SomeOne. Simon’s take is that on-screen, photos are much better presented against black than out of white. He is of course correct in that. Whether or not the explanation for that can be found in Wall’s phenomenology, there’s an argument to be had that on-screen, the roles of white and black are reversed against their roles on paper, which reflects rather than is a source of light.

All of which got me to thinking about the Wall quote above, in the context of my workflow/presentation. My pictures are edited and most often viewed online, on-screen (such expensive lightboxes we have on our desks or in our pockets!). Which leads to thoughts about the best presentation for an exhibition I’m hoping to show early next year (more on that soon). Should I exhibit prints, or install projections/lightboxes? The more I think on it, the stronger the appeal of the ‘two worlds’, at the intersection of which is already my most familiar framing… more on this soon…

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