30 julho, 2009

Edgar Martins: processos de trabalho

A acompanhar a reflexão provocada pela publicação das imagens de The Ruins of the Gilded Age, Edgar Martins divulgou também um conjunto de fotografias suas legendadas com as quais pretende realçar alguns pontos da argumentação. Aqui estão elas:

Untitled, from the series Ruins of the Gilded Age, 2008 (Georgia, USA)
© Edgar Martins

This panoramic photograph was conceived by mirroring the same image and making subtle digital alterations. As with most of the visual hyperbolic statements which pervade my work, the symmetry is not subtle in its psychological nuances. My overall intention was to replicate another image which I took of this house, where the sunset was reflected on one of the top windows only. This image was light by multiple flashes.
The digitally constructions have an important role in the project.
Fragmented spaces become metaphors for one’s fragmented memories.
These houses are also a psychological interior.

Untitled, from the series Ruins of the Gilded Age, 2008 (Connecticut, USA)
© Edgar Martins

Much has been written about this image. My intention was to mirror the right hand side of the room on the left hand side, thus creating two opposing doorways. Joining the two sides also meant correcting the perspective. The leaves and ground were photographed as they were found, though symmetry was also created in two small parallel sections of the floor. Much like the 'invisible' ink which I used in certain areas of text of The Diminishing Present book (and which can only be read under a certain light, awaiting discovery), I often symmetry resort to symmetry to invite the viewer to look closer.
Contrary to speculation no gaps on the floor were filled in.
The researchers notes stated I might find rooms with scattered leaves. Sure enough this was the case. All the doors to this house were left unlocked and some even permanently open.
It was brought to my attention that some viewers questioned whether the leaves would normally be found this way. This line of questioning is entirely valid.
Where does one draw a line when seeking to represent but also shape reality? And how does the viewer relate to this?
The only constructions which were conceived in the context of this project were made at a representational level only.
It is not reality which I have sought to 'manipulate' but its image.
This work explores the concept of 'home' as an idea and a form and summons a disquieting conjunction of reality, hyper-reality, fantasy and fiction.

Untitled, from the series Ruins of the Gilded Age' 2008 (Montana, USA)
© Edgar Martins

Similarly to the photograph of a wooden house interior, shot on the outskirts of Phoenix, which sparked the current debate, I produced other mirrored interiors, which I submitted to the New York Times Magazine.
The structural and cosmetic properties of this image are strikingly symmetrical.
It explores an imaginary sense of "wholeness" to the experience of a fragmentary reality.

Untitled, from the series Ruins of the Gilded Age, 2008 (Arizona, USA)
© Edgar Martins

The constructions in this image are restricted to some of the pipe work in the ceiling as well as the objects in the foreground which were simply increased in number and, of course, in some cases mirrored.
My starting point for this construction was a simple statement which I once read(and which does not necessarily reflect my personal views): 'only a bad architect relies on symmetry; instead of symmetrical layout of blocks, masses and structures, Modernist architecture relies on wings and balance of masses'.
My intention was to draw on references form Modernist Art, thus also alluding to the wider concerns in my work, particularly with respect to the impact of Modernism on the environment.

Untitled, from the series Ruins of the Gilded Age' 2008 (Nevada, USA)
© Edgar Martins

The left-hand side of the image was mirrored on the right-hand side. Paradoxically, the original image was almost identical to this photograph, the only difference being the shadow on the ground which wasn't as pronounced.
My objective was to highlight the 'V' shape on the ground.
It occurred to me whilst producing this project that many of the developments which I had visited had single letters or various coded signs spread throughout them. These would often be painted on the doors of abandoned residential developments, on the outside perimeter fences of commercial complexes or in this case on the bare walls of the building.
It reminded me of terminology and markings which were used on the house fronts in the aftermath of Katrina.
I was therefore contemplating if the reference to such symbols might resonate with the viewer at a subconscious level.
The symbol 'V' is more traditionally associated with 'Victory' but also 'Versus'. Following this train of thought we could also associate it with 'Volt', or 'Velocity' (these being elevator shafts).
The symbol 'V,' in itself, can also be understood as an acronym for symmetry.
I have always sought to explore multi-layered images. In my view, this is one of the ways in which photography can overcome the single-frame's limitations.
Symmetry, in my work, also alludes to a level of understanding beyond the obvious and the symbolic. It has something to do with Barthes' third-meaning, something which disturbs language and meaning itself.

Untitled, from the series Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies, 2003 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

Produced for a monograph entitled Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies, but not actually included in this book, these fires were created by setting the lake alight. A sequence of 4 consecutive images was taken by different cameras placed side by side. At this time I was working predominantly with medium format cameras.
In a Romantic appropriation of Warner Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle, the fires represent the metamorphosis that each and any given space undergoes every time it is observed and/or photographed. Thus, the photograph does not record reality as it is but as it is changed. The fires are representative of the eye/camera's ability to provoke change. Following this train of thought it would be plausible to argue that Photography is unable to represent reality as it changes it every time it interacts with it.
From the sequence of four images produced of these fires, this was the only one which required minor retouching.

Untitled, from the series Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies' 2003 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

This fire was also staged in a middle of a dark road in Portugal. It was light by a single flash. The images of fires were only conceived once the project was nearing completion. I felt anxious that the reader would not view the book and the work (moreover its production) as an inter-related process. I did not want it to be understood as a compilation of disparate photos taken in different locations and at different periods of time. It was therefore important to create a set of images which accentuated the ambiguity of the work and which positioned the author 'in the present tense' in relation to the process of production of the images and rationalization of the work.
In Bachelard’s The Psychoanalysis of Fire, the phenomenon of fire is presented as the prime element of reverie, an object of consuming essence where one is able to see oneself mirrored. A metaphor for performance, fire is also associated to the process of change - Bachelard maintains that ‘all that changes quickly can be explained by fire’.
No digital processes were involved in the conception of this photograph.

Untitled, from the series Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies, 2003 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

Though from the same series as the previous two images this photograph portrays found scenario. This project had a 3 year gestation period. The locations represented in the book were extensively researched and photographed.
A stage for the encounter with the everyday, Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies calls to our attention that all is flow, all boundaries are provisional, all space is permeable.
It is the setting for spatial and temporal dislocation.
In Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies, the artist operates within a landscape of uncertainty, within a culture landscape of permanent flux, transition and opposition.
Spaces are primed with a sense of purpose yet they are marginal, fragmented and dispersed.
In the delicate weight of these landscapes, human perception seems to enter a different register.
It is as if everything expresses contingency, as if space and time are about to simmer and disperse.

Untitled, from the series The Diminishing Present, 2006 (UK)
© Edgar Martins

Apart from three symmetrical constructions included in this body of work it portrays solely found scenario. No digital processes were involved in the conception of this photograph.
The Diminishing Present assesses how various natural spaces have been forced to conform to increasingly urban and artistic ideals, adopting the codes and language that it yields.
At times the work seems to question whether space as a totality escapes the perception of the individual; whether our experience of place, as a whole, has become an incipient forum of disruptive experiences and expression; whether the movement of information and people and the commodification of cultural forms outlines a unique body of flow and false consciousness.
But at other times it simply proposes that we are no longer mere transients.
The Diminishing Present is a journey of recognition: the city and, in a broader sense, space, as our object of understanding is changing and because of this one needs to find a new critical language that supports it, and a new system of knowledge from which to derive our glossary of life.

Untitled, from the series When Light Casts no Shadow, 2008 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

This photograph is part of a new series of work entitled When Light Casts no Shadow. It will be included in my forthcoming monograph, due this Fall.
This is a great example of an image where the the symmetrical properties of the space blur the boundaries of perception. A closer inspection of this image (not possible through this jpg) will reveal that all is not what it seems, thus opening a line of questioning concerning the nature of the process employed.

Untitled, from the series Parables of Metaphor and Light' 2007(UK)
© Edgar Martins

In 2007 I decided to produce a body of work where the camera was rendered obsolete. This project comprises three separate approaches. The images from this chapter were produced using high tech digital equipment used primarily for medical research.

Untitled, from the series When Light Casts no Shadow, 2008 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

From the series When Light Casts no Shadow, this is yet another picture which looks highly symmetrical, but which does not resort to any kind of digital or analogical mirroring techniques.
Whenever possible I purposefully seek locations and real life objects with these characteristics.
Between 2006 and 2008, I was granted unrestricted access to some of the most interesting airports in Europe.
Some of these airports are unique in that the runways and standing areas are surfaced in back tarmac and not the usual concrete. Over time, parts of these airports have fallen into disuse and become dilapidated, and it is this that drew me to them.
I chose to photograph almost exclusively at night, utilizing large format cameras, the airport's floodlights and long exposures of up to two hours in order to register minute tonal differences between blacktop and night sky, my camera picking out fluorescent signs and markings on the ground - and also the patterns of the weeds that had grown in cracks that had occurred due to lack of maintenance. The result is an imagery that is even more abstract and enigmatic than that of an earlier series.

Untitled, from the series When Light Casts no Shadow, 2008 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

With this project, I am addressing a peculiarly contemporary landscape, that ever more generic 'terrain vague'. In my images nature and constructed space are colliding, overlapping, and blurring. Sky and constructed ground merge in darkness. Everything is indeterminate and difficult to decode. The juxtaposition of sign and shape represent an overlapping of time, of language, of space.
This work deals with the airport as synonymous of the contemporary city - a landscape of permanent flux, transition and opposition.
No digital processes were involved in the conception of this photograph.

Untitled, from the series The Accidental Theorist' 2007 (Portugal)
© Edgar Martins

This project defined a way of working which has shaped my practice.
This work has two distinct phases: the photographs which I produced prior to 2007 and the images which followed.
With regards to the images produced post 2007, these deploy a different approach. I produced a limited selection of photographs which further explore the idea of construction and theatricality. The primary objective was to further enhance the temporal experience of these images.
I have always made a conscious attempt to differentiate between the two different approaches publicly.
Both myself and the editors of Topologies felt that these images should not be included in the publication given the different approach which was used.
However, I have since sought to include at least one image from this latter phase in the exhibitions of this work which have taken place since early 2008. Much like the fires in the 'Black Holes' project or the obvious symmetries at play in others, these images play a specific role.
For two years I had longed to produce a reasonably long exposure of an individual in this stretch of coastline.
However, due to the approach which I had devised (solely portraying found scenario), I soon realised that photographing a single person in the less well light beaches, at the proposed time of night, and for an extended period of time, would simply not be feasible. Even if staged I did not believe the person would be able to convey all of the things which I had envisaged he/she would.
However, In September 2007, through a chance encounter, I was finally able to produce such a photograph.
Stepping out of downtown Lisbon's underground station I came across a street performer, a so called 'human-statue', that seemed connected to my images in more ways than I could ever have imagined.
His black coat, pants, hat and tie looked as though they were being blown back by a strong gust of wind. This effect was no doubt shaped by a wire structure sewn into the lining of the clothes. His facial expressions, hairstyle and stature, supported by the briefcase he was holding spoke of displacement; of a person trapped in a space of permanent arrivals and departures. There was a magical sense of movement to his performance. Yet, he was as still as the umbrella which I had photographed the night before in one of these beaches.
For years I had sought to represent movement in still and inanimate objects, highlighting photography's inability to capture or represent time.
In front of me was an individual who had mastered the art of conveying time through body language.
In an uncharacteristic move for me, I approached this individual; not only interrupting his performance but also proceeding to tell him all about my project.
We agreed to meet that same evening at a beach in the outskirts of Lisbon. I had asked him to produce two 30 minute performances at that location, from 10 PM onwards.
I did not know if he'd show up, given the casual nature of our agreement, but luckily he adhered to the schedule.
Bound by a shared understanding, this is how Pian and I produced this photograph. This image comprises his second performance and is less well know than an earlier photograph taken of his him, shot through cactus plants.
This photograph represents more than a mere individual performance for me.
My work is generally produced in peripheral regions, in spaces where there is a dialectic of stasis and flux that is in a constant state of uncertain transformation.
In this landscape of uncertainty, where everything expresses contingency, and where space and time are about to simmer and disperse, a lasting friendship was forged.
This is the only landscape that survives our absence.

1 comentário:

Brumo Gomas disse...

excelente artigo. excelentes fotografias.

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