Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Advancing photography backwards


Darren Glass: Lapilli
Anna Miles Gallery
11 June - 8 July 2008

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in old camera technologies, not as a backlash against digital methodology but more an interest in new sorts of image construction. (Exploring photography as a type of drawing perhaps?) Darren Glass has made over 75 pinhole cameras (including an airborne Frisbee variety) in an effort to discover startling forms of photographic marks. His cameras also double as sculptures. There is a nostalgic component to these landscapes - they look related to say Burton Brothers images - but the mindset is nevertheless contemporary in its blending of abstraction with figuration, and its interest in process.

The photographs here were made during a six week residency in December 2006, in the heart of the North Island at Tongariro National Park. Three cameras sit on the central table in Anna Miles’ gallery and three sorts of image are on the walls, each with their own optical peculiarities.

With his Multiple Aperture Pinhole Camera for 10” x 100” film, Glass concentrated on waterfalls in the Park - plus the occasional Ohakune Carrot. Washers behind the pinholes kept the exposures in a circular format. Using a Multiple Aperture Panoramic Pinhole Camera for 70 mm film he also recorded valleys and scree slopes overlooked from the Tongariro Crossing, incorporating eastern and western views in the same image by alternating the camera’s orientation correct way up or inverted. From these two projects he made strips of contact prints.

In his third project, using a rock for a tripod and a Telephoto Slit Camera from a cardboard tube, Glass created a set of quite different separated images, of Mt. Ngauruhoe at sunrise and sunset. These images are surprisingly different at the beginning and ending of daylight. They strangely distort so that at evening the mountain looks quite flat and bathed in washes of blue, while in early morning it is much much steeper and a dark silhouette.

This is a remarkable exhibition due to the artist’s passion for inventive research and experiment. His love of camera design and subsequent image creation make it a highlight of the Auckland Festival of Photography.

2 comments:

Neil Miller said...

hi, I love darren glasses work, the images are wonderful but why would you say that his homemade cameras are sculpture? merely because they take up 3d space? they are not like simon morrisses painting machines where the machine is as interesting as the image. The mess I make in the studio isnt abstract expressionism.

John Hurrell said...

Darren himself promotes the idea of his cameras being sculpture. He exhibited them as such in Telecom Prospect last year (see the City Gallery website and the online article about him from Art News.)
They do look like sculpture, like parts of Richard Deacon works, but his sensiblity is closer to say Stephen Pippin.

The real attractions are the photographs. No point in fetishising the cameras, though they are seductively beautiful.