Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Three Squares 01: Formal Concerns

Chapter II of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.

Three Squares 01: Formal Concerns

© Ian Talbot

“Photography concentrates one’s eye on the superficial. For that reason it obscures the hidden life which glimmers through the outlines of things like a play of light and shade.”Franz Kafka

    The premise of this image and the set from which it has been drawn is a simple one; square “distressed” mirror tiles on a field or background. I have called this series “Formal Concerns” because, with content being minimal, concerns of form, or formal arrangement of the given elements is practically all there is.

    Of course, in one sense, what Kafka calls in the quote above, “…the outlines of things like a play of light and shade” is basically what any photograph amounts to. Naturally, with the addition of colour too if present… but not here obviously.

    I won’t bore you with technical details except to say that I used a recently purchased “Lens Baby” for the shots; basically a cheap plastic lens on the end of a bendy tube which has the effect of distorting and smearing its already dubious optical qualities. In fact I only mention it because it was useful to “bend” the perfect squares and push the shapes out of their parallel perfection. Almost like painting with light and form. Almost…

    I’ve selected this particular image here because it illustrates the point. Basically nothing could be simpler than three tiles in a row as here. To “lift” the image I manipulated the aforementioned “Lens Baby” to induce the bright line of edge reflection on the left.

    Immediately I saw the first image I made of my own eye I knew that I could achieve something of the same sort of effect with my own image. There was no real great trick to it… a handheld camera and macro lens, all it required was to get the lighting, framing and angle right! It took a while…

    So what does it all mean? Beats me…

    Oh, and BTW, I have used the “Lens Baby” again precisely once since I made these images.

    Ian Talbot

    Text & image © Ian Talbot

Next week
Photogenic Drawing : The Natural Order

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