Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Sciagraph 04 :: Sciagraphs
Chapter XVI of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.
Sciagraph 04 :: Sciagraphs
© Ian Talbot
“Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees.” Paul Valery
Of course, the alternative to the view quoted above is to make an image of something so obscure and trivial that it remains virtually nameless. For what it is worth it is, as the others in this series, an image of two pieces of mesh overlapped to form a pattern. A pattern signifying nothing in particular, at that.
Yet a photograph is still inextricably linked to the thing photographed such that it can never truly break free. This image is not an abstract for there are no abstracts in photography. Even so I have attempted to make it as close to an image of nothing as I could. At least in this case it doesn’t really matter what it is an image of.
While creating the small series this image is a part of I had in mind this quote by Jasper Johns, “… It had all the qualities that interest me – literallness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness and the possibility of complete lack of meaning.” I share many of these interests – more and more of late – and yet I’ve found that the less meaning I attach to an image, the less meaning I wish to express, the more viewers will attach their own meaning. I guess it’s not only nature that abhors a vacuum. It’s an area I mean to explore further.
I have called these images “Sciagraphs” (shadow drawings) after the term used by W.H. Fox Talbot to describe his first attempts at fixing the image created by the action of sunlight on the silver nitrate soaked paper upon which he would lay various objects, leaves, fabrics and lace etc. It seemed appropriate here. Of course, interestingly, such was the wonder at the possibility of fixing these early images that for Fox Talbot it must have mattered little what the actual subject used was too. As for my images, and well before McCluhan coined the phrase, “The medium truly is the message”.
Text & image © Ian Talbot
Next : Chapter XVII – Shell :: Objectivity