The Incoherent Light

Emi Fukuyamaemi

image

There is often the sense of something strange or veiled about Emi Fukuyamaemi’s pictures, perhaps because they frequently seem to be looking through or past some kind of visual “disturbance” in the foreground. This at once makes us aware of the picture as something that is fundamentally constructed and undermines the familiar expectation of a properly (that is to say, transparently) organized space within the frame. What she chooses to photograph also increases this effect of visual - or spatial - estrangement in that her subjects tend to be resolutely ordinary scenes. This absence of spectacle means the dissonance of the images is all that more striking. They make visible the psychological tensions that are implicit in everyday experience.

"With their near forensic visual style, the pictures are a starkly elaborated window on events that are already ambiguous in nature. Piotrowska’s strategy seems, paradoxically, intended to obscure the nature of these scenes by presenting them in as forthright a manner as possible and indeed, the clarity of the photographs makes their strange atmosphere all the more threatening; their disorder does not so much lurk below the surface, but suggests itself as the only conceivable state of affairs."
 - from my latest feature for Paper Journal, Uncertain Constellations: An Interview with Joanna Piotrowska.

"With their near forensic visual style, the pictures are a starkly elaborated window on events that are already ambiguous in nature. Piotrowska’s strategy seems, paradoxically, intended to obscure the nature of these scenes by presenting them in as forthright a manner as possible and indeed, the clarity of the photographs makes their strange atmosphere all the more threatening; their disorder does not so much lurk below the surface, but suggests itself as the only conceivable state of affairs."

 - from my latest feature for Paper Journal, Uncertain Constellations: An Interview with Joanna Piotrowska.

Brea Souders

image

Photography does well with surface impressions, describing what can be seen; it is much less adept with concepts. Instead we have come to expect the when and the who that most pictures seem to give us. Of course, that isn’t quite the whole story either and so, much contemporary work has been at pains to complicate these commonplace notions we have about photography, bringing a critical, reflexive edge their use of the medium.

Brea Souders’ work is a good example of this tendency, with its eclectic range of techniques that borrow widely from the history of photography, as well as the visual arts in general. For Souders, however, this critical regard takes a direction that looks, rather gratifyingly, like a form of play, with no clear solution or unifying method. At stake here are questions of memory and perception, along with the tactile and the immaterial qualities of seeing.

Despite the fact that we are surrounded by pictures, we don’t entirely know - and don’t always seem inclined to ask - what exactly it is they do or how they work; Souders is allowing us to see the machinery that is otherwise concealed by our conventional assumptions about the medium. This is not simply about pushing the “limits” of photography, but is instead an attempt to understand what it means to live in a world of pictures.