Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blurred reality

click photo to enlarge
The critic John Berger writes that the invention of the camera "showed that the notion of time passing was inseparable from the experience of the visual". In his view the invention and use of perspective in painting "proposed to the spectator that he was the unique centre of the world", but the camera demonstrated that there was no centre, and that "what you saw was relative to your position in time and space". He goes on to note that the invention of the camera changed the way men saw, and " the visible no longer presented itself to man in order to be seen", rather it being "in continual flux, became fugitive." Much late nineteenth century and twentieth century art is built on this idea.

I was reflecting on this during the processing of the photograph above. The outing on which it was taken included a visit to a gallery where I saw paintings of such depressing banality that you wondered whether the artist was familiar with any of the notable practitioners of the past two centuries. If he had been he surely couldn't have displayed his own work. My image shows the reflection of a railway bridge that crosses the River Witham near the Grand Sluice in Boston, Lincolnshire. The bold shapes and the clouded sky attracted my eye, and I decided to shoot it with a slow shutter speed to blur the water. The resulting image reminded me a little of the Abstract Expressionist paintings of Franz Kline that feature strong, dynamic and spontaneous shapes against lighter backgrounds. Whatever the association it's a strong contrast to the style (and inspiration) of my preceding two blog images!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 31mm (62mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f9.0
Shutter Speed: 1/10
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off