First Post

Hi, this is my first post of my blog. I’m not sure where I’m going with it yet but its broadly going to be about my thoughts on photography both here in London and on my travels. I would love to hear your comments. to start with I thought I would briefly share my thoughts on the Twilight exhibition at the V&A in South Kensington- be quick you’ve only got a few days.

Upon entering the Twilight exhibition at the V&A the lights are dimmed and the anticipation builds. The subdued lighting, like twilight itself, adds a sense of intrigue to the proceedings. Each featured photographer has a space sectioned off from a main corridor, displaying mainly still images with a couple of (notable) exceptions. All the work is shot at twilight but each photographer uses this ever-changing light to convey very different narratives to various degrees of success.
We begin with Gregory Crewdson’s twilight scenes of suburban America. They are somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Wall’s work, in that they are shot as large-scale productions in much the same way as a film. Unlike Wall, Crewdson uses little digital manipulation to create these scenes. Using several artificial light sources as well as the ambient twilight allows the photographer to emphasise certain aspects of the images giving the impression of a painting. The ambiguous low light adds to the feeling of the surreal to create truly absorbing images. Next is Bill Henson, an Australian who photographs teenagers, complimenting the transcendent nature of their age with the qualities of the light. His Untitled #20 (below) stands out as the most striking on display here.

Untitled 20

Liang Yue’s cityscapes of Beijing create a very different atmosphere to the previous two artists. The flat grey light from the pollution in this metropolis and the small, isolated figures holding torches give a feeling of unease and oppression.
We return to the inky blue hues in the next room for Chrystal Lebas’s fantastic forest scenes. One of the highlights of the show, Lebas’ use of the minimal light in these dark forests with long exposures gives a feeling of luminescence and depth to the photographs. This combined with the real-time video tracking the changing light and the accompanying birdsong gives the impression of being transported into a forest. The darkness of the room and the crop of the photographs make you feel you are in a hide. It is a testament to the atmosphere in these photographs that, while there is little going on, I easily spent the most time in here.

Chrystal Lebas Abyss 11 (2003)
I found Robert Adams’ small format black and white shots of the urban sprawl encroaching on rural U.S.A. far less endearing. For me the scenes are over-familiar and black and white film denies us the spectacular yet subdued colours on display in other works. In the next room Mikhailov also uses monochromatic images, this time though, the blues suggest twilight. At Dusk, like Henson’s photographs, reflects the changing nature of the light to his subject matter. Here it is the Ukrainian city of Kharkov after the break up of the Soviet Union that is in transition. Like his work displayed at the Barbican as part of the In the Face of History exhibition, the photographs are panoramas placed low down forcing the viewer to bend down and actively look at them. Philip-Lorca Dicorca’s Hollywood stills, whilst well composed and lit, to me simply look like film stills, there is nothing out of the ordinary here. I felt as if I had seen it all somewhere before.

Across the corridor the exhibition concludes with the work of Ori Gersht. First are the London skyscapes taken from his apartment window. The differing combinations of available light and air pollution paint the sky very different hues. It is his video installation that, alongside Chrystel Lebas’ forest scenes, I appreciated the most though. It is the only work that deals directly with the transitionary nature of twilight without recording it. Called Big Bang, it is set in a completely dark room. The screen shows a vase of flowers reminiscent of a still-life painting and seems to hover in the air almost pulsating with the competing sirens played through the speakers building to a spectacular crescendo and then…

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~ by peterdarch on December 12, 2006.

3 Responses to “First Post”

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