OBSCURE / REVEAL I
Double-Plate Polymer Etching
280 x 385 mm
“Whatever Photography grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not it that we see.”
Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
This is the first of a new body of work that aims to explore the power of the partially obscured, or inadequately seen, photographic portrait. In this print a powerful abstract swathe of ink threatens the image with invisibility and doing so adds potency to the impassive face.
We live in a world in which the art of memory seems almost obsolete, having been outsourced to communications technology, through which perfect, high-resolution images and information are endlessly uploaded and reproduced. These contemporary methods of digital record-keeping let me to wonder what impact this would have on our perception of ourselves, and the loss of meaning on our sensibilities. And what affect the proliferation of so many perfect representations of the human face would have on the appreciation of old and unclear photographic souvenirs, and whether their very fragility by contrast would confer some mystery and power on these fragments.
This triggered a new direction in my practice and an exploration into the impact of partly obscured portraits. Francis Bacon stated that his portraiture sought to “Deform into the Truth” and in a similar way these prints aim to reveal by obscuring the unique nature and moment when this image was fixed for all time.