1985 Text for Mori Gallery exhibition Killing Time with Jeff Kleem, Jacky Redgate, Maureen Burns, Anne Zahalka, Ken Heyes, Juliee Pryor, Bruce Searle, Martyn Jolly, Mori Gallery January 1985
We no longer feel any joy in camera vision. We no longer delight In the eye. Photographers were once ever alert to the new, the revealing, the penetrating. Not any more. No more vertiginous camera angles, no more witty composltlons, no more frozen moments, no more timeless landscapes,
The photographer’s eye once strained to see as far as possible, penetrate as deeply as possible into the real. ‘The real’ was a complicated plot that only reluctantly revealed its secrets. It was a veil to be lifted, a chaos to be ordered, a depth to be plumbed. Not any more. Now our photographer’s eyes are numbed. The stroboscopic ‘shocks of recognition’, provoked by ‘decisive moments’ in time, have reached the frequency of a tv’s pulsation. Everything now pereieved through the camera’s lens is an always already seen, known and read. Now we do see forever, for in photography we see everything always.
The photograph was once the function of a vertical thrust – a probing lens, a straining eye. Print clarity, lens resolution and artistic perception were all indices of this depth. Photography once seemed to be simply the collection of these photographs – a set of individual ‘seens’, a forest of camera extrusions. Now Its ubiquity has congealed into a field of contiguities. Each photograph is now merely one of all the photographs in the world – an image with edges but no boundaries. Each photograph shares in the same substance as every other photograph, each dips into the same pool of immediacy and veracity. The Integral history and historical location of each is subsumed into the immanent photographic presence. All the photographs in the world have congealed to form a global, gelatinous skin. Photography is now not so much a window on the world as an oily film which coats it.
Current photographic practice has ceased to be defined by the vertical thrust entailed In the act of taking a photograph. It Is no longer a series of Individualistic probes. Now it isdefined by the horizontal slide of the photograph’s infinite displacement and endless proliferation through reproduction. (A reproduction in which the mechanical and electronic exponentially multiply the photograph’s Inherent reproducibility.) Now we blindly feel our way across the global, mobius surface of photography with the expectation of revealing nothing new.
Yet photography qua photography persists. Its horizontallzation has not destroyed its priveleged relationslilp to the real ‑ its optical andchemlcal -causality. Its almost carnal palpability. Only the particularity of the object, the eye and the Instant has been lost: individual photographs endlessly circulate beneath photography’s smooth skin; the photographer’s eye stares blankly ahead; the decisive moment expands to dissolve the instant. –
We abandon vision In favour of the surface, penetration in favour of the survey. We Invite the quotatlonal, parodic and ironic to play across the photographic field. Photographs are rephotographed. Empty arcades are searched for the traces of previous photographers. The immaculate ‘reality’ that once-upon-a-time existed before the, cameras of famous photographers Is recreated and rephotographed in a cruel parody of ‘original vision’. Faces loom in a conflagration of masterpiece and blowup. Innocent, ‘sensitive’ emulsion is clinically spread to passively await its fate. The delicious pain of precious memories is nurtured in funereal swadling, or casually collected like holiday souvenirs. The two-dimensional and three-dimensional relentlessly fight it out. Texts and images gossip about each other behind their own backs. The game of portraiture is played out on an elaborate scale to once more gain our attention. Individual photographs supi-iliantly curl in their own transparent nests.