Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Sciagraph 3
Chapter XVIII of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.
© Ian Talbot
“… traces on the paper melancholy to behold. And this led me to reflect on the inimitable beauty of nature’s painting which the glass lens of the Camera throws upon the paper in its focus – fairy pictures, creations of a moment and destined as rapidly to fade away.
“… traces on the paper melancholy to behold. And this led me to reflect on the inimitable beauty of nature’s painting which the glass lens of the Camera throws upon the paper in its focus – fairy pictures, creations of a moment and destined as rapidly to fade away. W. H. Fox Talbot
I find the quote above quite emotional for two reasons; firstly because, while many may have dreamed of fixing the images cast by the common drawing aid the Camera Lucida these words record the moment when my illustrious namesake determined to make it so. And secondly because, like William Henry, I too have insufficient manual dexterity to make anything other than an inept tracing, even with the aid of optical devices. Were it not for photography I should remain visually mute. This alone is enough to fill me with emotion and gratitude for the genius of the man.
With this piece I have brought my “Sciagraph” series of images to an end and have indeed come full circle with it. While the motivation for the series was, as is obvious from the above, to pay due homage to the inventor of photography and to explore the concept of “drawing with the camera”, the actual inspiration for how to approach the project came from some wonderful and sublime “Graphite on Paper” pieces by my friend and fellow artist Tim Grosvenor.
This original inspiration may be more or less obscure in the earlier images but with this, the final one, I have come much closer to Tim’s own pieces in both appearance and style. It is therefore also an homage to Tim’s work, a way of acknowledging visually, if you like, the source of that inspiration. Here I’m glad to acknowledge in words too the debt these pieces owe to Tim’s marvellous graphite originals.
Just as if one were to draw the motif I have used, a simple line of wire, four times there would inevitably be discrepancies, thus I have photographed it four times. I tried very hard to make each of the four images identical but with the knowledge that there would be obvious, albeit subtle, differences. This was entirely the point of the exercise, the images would be alike but not identical. A fact which can be readily ascertained by seeing the presentation on my website where the four images are shown separately in detail.
Text & image © Ian Talbot
Next : Chapter IXX – Grid Theory