Handmade pinhole cameras, loaded with black and white sheet film, are placed within the Intertidal zone of the beach. Looking towards the oncoming sea as the tide rises the action of the waves wash over the camera, sometimes completely submerging it by the end of the five to fifteen minute exposures. Salt water and sand come into contact with the photographic material; marking, blemishing, embedding, becoming a physical part of the film. Subject and object collide to create an image that blurs the distinction between land, sea and sky.
“The need to photograph everything lies in the very logic of consumption itself. To consume means to burn, to use up - and therefore to need to be replenished. We consume images and so need more and more images...” Susan Sontag
The Smokestack series represents a return to the raw materials of photography – film and light, motivated by an avoidance of an image saturated culture despite its inevitable position within this. This series forms the root of all work shown on this website.
Sheets of film are placed within a purpose built, aluminium pinhole camera of approximately similar dimensions. The camera is placed on top of a simple metal frame, which also takes its formal starting point from the size of the film. The frame becomes an extension of the camera, a lens for the pinhole to look through, but unlike a normal camera lens this structure is partly destroyed by fire during the exposure. The frame also functions as a tripod and forms the two dimensional, geometrical space of the image. The duration and light of the fire is the duration and light of the exposure. The camera records this destruction and protects the film and latent image from the flames through its metal composition. What is physically left over is the underlying structure of the frame and camera and the sheet of film holding a latent image within. The flames are fleeting and bring light only for a minute.
The elemental nature of this work suggests something of the original ‘wonder’ of the possibility of the photographic image, wonder often subsumed by modern digitization. These images, grounded in reality through use of the chemical process, make use of the veracity that is still present within this image making art/ technology. The image is the metal frame, on fire in the throes of destruction, creating the image.