Sun and Moon Pictures

Habits of sight are stubbornly persistent. We fall easily into a  bloody-mindedly literalism about the reality of place and its right  representation; caught up in the clear consensus expectation of what we know we  should see, soon enough we stop looking at all. Our everyday reliance on shortcuts of perception is efficient, certainly, but it  can also leave us wandering, pedestrian and prosaic, lost to the latent potential of other worlds that fissure through the bland blank wash of the familiar [1]. Few places are  as susceptible to the indifference of our regard as the urban-suburban borderland running between the insular sphere of home and  the public orbits of industry and amusement, a zone that we pass  through, blind and hurried, on our way to an elsewhere that already has our attention. Strange crucible, the ‘Diana’ camera; an unsophisticated plastic box with  no bells or whistles, a tumbling tunnel vision, and an intractable  disinclination to accommodate any requirements but its own [2]; but with this simple camera Mark Kimber has fashioned a more vivid landscape; one less ‘real’, if we believe that complacent convention is reality, but perhaps more  authentic for it [3]. The world of the Sun Pictures is at once entirely human and unpeopled; a loaded emptiness that could be either  anticipation or aftermath, the composition evoking the shapes and angles of comic books and movie sets. Here  in the dissolving warmth of the late afternoon light, a lone observer moves  amongst sharp-edged blocks and washes of poster-bright colours. 

Sun Picture #3

Clean, warm, and orderly, the Sun Pictures recreate elusive visions half-sighted out of the corner of the mind’s eye, apprehended in  glimpses but never fully known.  Blue wall replicates blue sky, the  vivid saturated blue of the sun-bright high-domed heat at the end of  a summer’s day. The Moon Pictures track a colder orbit. Time shifts, colour shifts. The amplification of the element of chance enacted through the isolation of lit objects, stillness, and the compression of time. Under hovering balls of light, a figure crouches in the half distance; not an actor, this new watcher, but the intent audience of some private vision, some other world again. These scenes belong not to any particular place, but  perhaps summon up the tropes of an archetypal film, never made. A vague shadowy amalgam, loose in the culture at large, of  pulp novels, flying saucer films, Saturday cartoons and urban legend.

Amy Patterson

[1] From Parkhurst, D., Law, K., Niebur, E. (2002) "Modeling the Role of Salience in the Allocation of Overt Visual Attention" in Vision Research, no.42, pp.107-123 --"The amount of incoming information to the primate visual system is greater than that which can be fully processed. It is well known that only part of this information is processed in full detail while the remainder is left relatively unprocessed." See also Gestalt theories of perceptual organisation, summarised in Bruce, V., Green, P. R. & Georgeson, M. A. (2003) "Perceptual Organisation" in Visual perception: Physiology, psychology and ecology. (4th ed). New York: Taylor & Francis, pp.103-135.

[2] For specifics of the Diana camera’s technical capacities and characteristic "quirks", see Bates, M. (2007) Plastic Cameras: Toying with creativity Focal Press: Burlington MA, pp.81-82.

[3] There is, it would seem, a long-standing tendency at large to confuse seeing things literally or functionally with seeing them clearly. Clive Bell’s Art (1914, Frederick A. Stokes Company: New York) included a lovely satirical anecdote of the literalism that would reduce artistic vision to a defect of sight, concluding: I suggested, tentatively, that perhaps the discrepancies between the normal man's vision and the pictures on the wall were the result of intentional distortion on the part of the artists. At this the professor became passionately serious- -"Do you mean to tell me," he bawled, "that there has ever been a painter who did not try to make his objects as lifelike as possible? Dismiss such silly nonsense from your head.” (p.30) This tendency is especially marked with regards to photography; Susan Sontag observed that "Everyone is a literalist when it comes to photographs", because of the prevalence of the assumption that "A photograph is not supposed to evoke but to show" -- Sontag, S. (2003) Regarding the Pain of Others, Penguin Books: London, p.42. Jeanette Winterson’s more romantic 1995 essay "Imagination and Reality" in Art Objects: Essays on ecstasy and effrontery (Vintage: London, pp.133-151) treats a similar subject, building around the recurring line "The reality of art is the reality of the imagination". (Art by Clive Bell is available in full via the Project Gutenberg Online Reader)

References:
Bates, M. (2007) Plastic Cameras: Toying with creativity Focal Press: Burlington MA
Bell, C. (1914) Art, Frederick A. Stokes Company: New York
Bruce, V., Green, P. R. & Georgeson, M. A. (2003) "Perceptual Organisation" in Visual perception: Physiology, psychology and ecology. (4th ed). New York: Taylor & Francis, pp.103-135
Parkhurst, D., Law, K., Niebur, E. (2002) "Modeling the Role of Salience in the Allocation of Overt Visual Attention" in Vision Research, no.42, pp.107-123.
Sontag, S. (2003) Regarding the Pain of Others, Penguin Books: London
Winterson, J. (1995) "Imagination and Reality" in Art Objects: Essays on ecstasy and effrontery, Vintage: London


Sun Pictures

Each photographic medium has its own particular way of seeing, a visual imprint through which we view the captured image. I have always been fascinated with camera “sight”, the marvellous alchemical process of shifting 3D matter into 2D imagery. I am fascinated by the urban landscape, somewhere that has been part of my subject matter since 1980, this time I have returned to it armed with the most basic of cameras the “Diana”. The visual qualities that a rough plastic lens, two apertures (sunny and cloudy) and one shutter speed impart are engagingly theatrical in their ability to transform objects and places into vignetted scenes of illusionistic delirium. The obvious restrictions these technicalities impose are in fact blessings, they guide the user toward locations and lighting conditions that offer rich possibilities.

For me it is the urban landscape that is so compelling. Landscape often viewed from a car window at 60kph, a theatre set of isolated forms, lit by the raking light and ready for its weekend players. Gardens resplendent with manicured lawns, and plants, pedantically positioned in sculptural symmetry. The tunnel-like vision of the plastic camera concentrating our vision and the light toward a centre bright with the warm, intense and saturated colours of late afternoon and framed to exclude all but the most fundamental of shapes, textures and lines.

Mark Kimber 2007