‘There is no doubt that nature as it manifests itself to the camera is different from nature as it manifests itself to the human eye; different above all, in that a perceptual space permeated by human consciousness is substituted by one which is not.’*
The camera’s view of the world is static and monocular; the human view of the world is moving, binocular and relies on the experience of time. The conceptual positioning of the photograph is that of a screen, a barrier to experience and the jailer of time, an image upon which we place subjective notions of experience and understanding. We don’t see or experience the world the way the camera depicts it, yet the ‘language’ of the photograph – through a proliferation of images and its acceleration since the boom in digital technologies – is so deeply embedded in our view of the world that we fail to see through its fallacy. My work deals not with ’reality’ but how reality is presented to us, it attempts to pierce the screen of artifice that frames contemporary visual culture.
Seeing, experiencing and understanding the world in which we live relies upon the role of time, distance and an awareness of the present, akin to the process of painting. The photographic record of an event locks a moment into a state of ‘that which has been’, which can only become more distant. My recent work, large-scale landscape paintings using Humbrol enamel paint are initially constructed using Photoshop. I build a composite image from around 15 – 20 photographs taken from a variety of sources – postcards, travel brochures, my own photographs, paintings of other artists etc – thus creating an entirely fabricated image which appeals to a tangible sense of ‘reality’ as prescribed by the photographic image. This image then serves as a ‘model’ for a painting, which is meticulously transcribed into the final work using a variety of techniques from tiny squares or pixels, small dots, large areas of flat colour and lines. The variety of techniques used and the employment of both matt and gloss enamel creates an image that upon first viewing appears to be a ‘photographic’ rendering in paint but actually becomes a meditation upon the physical properties of the photograph and its visual language. The resulting work sets up a dialogue around the dehumanising effect of placing our subjective notions of reality upon virtual images of untruths, approximations, images displaying the rules of machines, where the notion of experience is subjugated through a reliance upon screen and lens based imagery.
*Walter Benjamin. ‘Kleine Geschichte der Photographie’ (1931), in; Angelus Novus Frankfurt 1966, p.232.