Tomorrow's the Night!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm back!

And tomorrow (Friday) we open our show of Christopher Bucklow's photographs. 6 to 8 p.m. for those who would like to attend the opening.

Bucklow's work is one of the pillars of the British "cameraless" photography movement which you'll be hearing a lot about this fall. It's at once luminous, spiritual, scientific, and metaphysical. And did I say gorgeous?

Bucklow's other-worldly photographs of radiant men and women set against grounds of color are made through a multi-step process that is both complex and laborious. Bucklow begins by projecting the shadow of his sitter on a large sheet of aluminum foil and tracing its outline. He then makes about twenty thousand small pinholes in the foil silhouette (one for each day of the average human lifespan). Using a contraption of his own device that places the foil over a large sheet of photographic paper, Bucklow wheels his homemade "camera" out into daylight and pulls the "shutter" to briefly expose the paper to direct sunlight. Thus each finished picture becomes a kind of photogram silhouette composed of thousands of pinhole photographs of the sun. The intensity of light on a given day and the length of exposure create unique color variations on how the resulting piece appears.

Following the artist's particular ground rules, and connecting Bucklow to the mystical tradition of British artists, in particular to the work of William Blake, Bucklow does not picture anyone he has not dreamed of. In this way, the works connect more deeply to both the artist's unconscious and the unknown. Part quantum physics (in particular the light bending phenomenon of the double slit experiment) and part zen philosophy, the thousands of suns not only shine out from the paper but are a window into the soul or anima of both subject and artist, and an appreciation of the individuality and preciousness of each day.

Bucklow's explorations into avoiding the negative are both literal and figurative, connecting light and art, with the Other. We may not readily associate photography and the mystical or spiritual, but Bucklow's work asks us to start by appreciating the surface and then to dig down into all the layers that lie underneath. It's a journey worth taking.

Christopher Bucklow's show mid-installation.


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