3. The color of time
Where I talk about aesthetics and show pictures of a stunning cave
When you’re in an underground cave, your sense of the passing of time and your sense of scale are distorted.
Last week, I thought I was going to talk about editing but what has been on my mind since I last posted has been the relationship between aesthetics and technology. I am not a techie by any means, but I have always been interested in the tools used for creation and I have been baffled by AI image generators. I think they’re polar opposites to what the process of photography is.
This post is illustrated with photos I took during my recent trip to the Gorges du Tarn and more specifically the ones I took during a visit to the Aven-Armand limestone cave in the Lozère département. It is a pretty stunning place, discovered by the speleologist Louis Armand in 1897. I will just let the images I took there speak for themselves.
I made a conscious aesthetic choice to not use any type of photographic gear that would make me feel my work belongs to another era than the one I am living in.
I am very admirative of people using wet collodion plates and of the darkroom artists who print beautiful images on baryta paper, but I went through a process of thought towards the acceptance of the common tools of my time.
I have shot film for a long time, as long as it was still quite common, and was very emotionally attached to it. I have always been on the side of more neutral images, even though I tended to favor soft contract, low saturation color film and that changed a lot later. I began using a DSLR in 2007 and since I have used both film and digital. I ended up heavily invested in black and white in 2014-2017, and I made work that I love at this time, but I felt it was the end for me. Then I shot photos meant for monochrome with digital cameras, until I finally ended up thinking digital cameras are color cameras.
The problem is that I don’t want my images to be one more step removed from reality, and I want to avoir nostalgia of form.
I decided to use nowadays tools, a regular and good quality digital camera, and a few regular, very common lenses. Maybe it makes it difficult to stand out in the crowd, but I ended up having to admit that it’s not what I was trying to do.
What I am trying to do, is to document my personal experience of life in a truthful way.
For this, what is in the frame is important indeed but I feel the process behind is too. People often shoot film because they’re nostalgic of the way it looks. I stopped because it makes me feel nostalgic of a time that will never come back, and makes me feel the passing of time a bit more than what I want to.
Every technology seems neutral and cold when it comes out, then we become nostalgic of every type of technology left behind us. A lot of young people who were born long after the death of VHS seems to think it looks cool now, but what a relief it was when we finally could see the crisp and faithful renditions of the DVD images.
In the aim to document your personal experience of life in a truthful way, you need to be there, you need to have some kind of honest relationship to the reality of it, even though everything is a choice, from the framing of a slice of what you have in your field of view to the decisive moment you choose to freeze forever.
I think the coming popularity of image-making by way of artificial intelligence will help photography resolder its relationship to truth. More about that later.
Thank you for reading and looking at my output this week!
Talk soon, dear readers!
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„What I am trying to do, is to document my personal experience of life in a truthful way.“ - I love that.
Amazing work, love it!