Saturday, 11 December 2010

Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography

Floris Neusüss - Shadow Catchers - installation shot - seen here

The V&A has been on my list to visit, there were two things in particular that I wanted to see, Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography and Mat Collishaw's Magic Lantern zoetrope installation in the crown cupola of the museum's architecture. I timed my visit to make sure I was there after dark and got the most from the installation, billed as '...hauntingly beautiful...a beacon of light brought to life by fluttering moths...', I was disappointed. If I had not already read about the piece, I am not sure I would have noticed it, and if I had, I think I just might have assumed there was a strobe light on the roof. There was also a smaller piece installed in the garden to compliment the work, but I was informed that it was not working today.

Moving swiftly on, Shadow Catchers was an enchanting exhibition, focusing on the experiments of five artists, Floris Neusüss, Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Garry Fabian Miller and Adam Fuss in making images on photographic paper without the use of a camera. Various techniques had been used which manipulated light or used chemical processes to capture people, objects, abstract patterns and textures. 

It is interesting that these techniques seemed to lead the artists to muse on spiritual and philosophic questions about the nature and matter of the universe. Maybe the techniques themselves and the quasi-scientific element to the processes influenced the contexts. The often ghostly, ethereal quality of the finished works certainly hint at the more meta-physical aspects of humanity. 

Pierre CordierChemigram 8/2/61 I, 8 février 1961 - seen here

I particularly enjoyed Chemigram 8//2/61 1, 8 fevrier 1961 by Pierre Cordier, it suggested to me the other-worldly presences of the ancestors seen in the palimpsest rock paintings of aboriginal Australia. 

Susan Derges - Vessel No. 3 (1) - seen here

I liked Susan Derges tadpole series, with all the memories it brought of childhood wonder at the process of transformation. Floris Neusüss' photogram Homage to Talbot: The Latticed Window, Lacock Abbey 2010 was absolutely beautiful. Adam Fuss' Shaker ladder was exceptional, and for me brought a little humour to the otherwise quite serious content of the show. 

Adam Fuss - seen here


  1. Photo made by Susan Derges remains me works of Michal Rovner

    best regards

  2. Hi Joanna,
    Yes! I can definately see that - I saw some of her work at Artes Mundi in Cardiff (2003 I think...), brilliant! Thanks for commenting.


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