Between Black and White there's Grey

Rushing from my A-Levels straight into my photography degree meant I quickly felt restricted by my choice. Compensating for a missing foundation and/or gap year, I made a lot of sculptural works in my spare time. Such early insecurities towards photography are acknowledged by German critic Camille Recht in his violinist/pianist analogy which illustrates how the painter’s technique is, like the violinist, more elaborate and thus easier to appreciate in comparison to the photographer, who, like the pianist, merely presses a button.

However, it was while defiantly making these early sculptures that I realized, as writer Susan Sontag says, “everything exists to end in a photograph”. This is particularly true today where the artist’s work is predominantly seen online in photographic form. It is crucial to remember that the object is subservient to the camera and that the photographer will decide how said object is portrayed. In this respect, the photograph is dangerously no more reliable than a painting in terms of its biased representation of reality.

The works featured in this series explore the fundamental characteristics of photography such as time, light and space. Visually, they are evocative of graphite sketches and thus exist in a grey area of uncertainty. This aesthetic derives from philosopher Vilém Flusser’s idea that black and white photographs “reveal their theoretical origin more clearly”. Simply, we do not see the world in black and white. The colour photograph is a deceptive imitation while the monochrome image empowers and liberates the medium, modestly embracing the abstract and artificial nature of photography. Dryly playful, these subtly surreal photographs prompt the viewer to look twice, subverting the notion of black and white photography being historically truthful, because, between black and white, there’s grey.
May 2020