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Light's Trace

A.P.T Gallery


4th-7th August 2022


Light traces dimensions onto flat surfaces, impressing moving scenes onto paper frames and palpable planes. Photographs stabilise the dynamism of vision into an experience that slows time, enabling us to extend our gaze. In Light’s Trace, Kadie Salmon and Caroline Jane Harris manipulate their photographic equipment’s technical intentions, embracing them as modes of artistic expression that foreground the hand of the maker and undermine representationalism.

Light leaves its impression on medium format film in the works of Salmon, when she reproduces herself as subject in performative states of motion. Using multiple exposure analogue photography, Salmon creates site-specific, visual paradoxes of intimate self-encounters, evoking romanticism, sexuality and desire. Harris’ appropriation of transparent 100-year-old photographic slides featuring sublime scenes of nature, explore a personal impression beyond the chemical and semiotic medium. The palm-sized portable windows onto the world used in her work are both image and object, historic yet contemporaneous with any view they frame. Both Salmon and Harris encapsulate their expanded photographic handling of materials, by drawing attention to the attributes of media, through sculpting, hand-colouring and cutting-out with a scalpel.

Salmon’s poetic photographs and moving images, produced exclusively using stills and in- camera methods, feature fantastical scenes of moment-by-moment locomotion that could be attributed to digital manipulation, yet are arresting in the revelation of their mechanical means of production (Moon Bathing, 2019). Her hand-coloured analogue photographs harken back to early 20th century cinema and directors like the Lumiere Brothers; referencing not only the transformative quality of applied colour, but significantly the history of gendered labour and the strictly female workforce employed as colourists. These processes explore the manipulative nature of the image itself and its conflicting roles in both depicting truth and presenting
fantasies or ideals.

The artist's hand also prevails in Harris’ practice, through her meticulous workmanship made in a meditative state to serve peace in defiance of our modern pace. Layered digital prints cut-out in pixels demand an investigative gaze that reveals the process of manual making (Crashing Waves I & II, 2019). Through recursive processes such as placing slides on her own pictures of the same subject matter and re-photographing, printing and cutting them, disparate timescales and locations are flattened and expanded into multi-dimensional artworks that examine the
temporality of our existence (A Continuum, 2022). Other techniques include photoetching into zinc where the imperfection of hand-cut marks are emphasised in shallow furrows (Hard Copy (Crashing Waves) I&II, 2019), occupying a space between print and indexical trace, two- and three-dimensions. In Luminous Fall (2022), a suspended delicate paper-cut intercepts an overhead projection onto a wall, temporarily recording a weightless image through a pixelated matrix in dual locations. The image’s material and dimensional stability is deconstructed, creating drawings in space with the intangible qualities of light, shadow and movement.

This transition between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional image is extended further in Salmon’s tactile and fragile sculptures. In Serrat (Salt Scree) (2022) the two-dimensional photograph becomes a sculptural material that draws attention to its material weight, scale and texture. Here, a small handmade model of a mountain has been photographed, hand-coloured, re-photographed and printed at large scale. The paper mountain sits crumpled, propped up and balancing on a debris of clay and photographic scree. The majestic strength and power associated with the summit of a mountain soon becomes exposed in her work as an illusion through the delicacy of the photograph in its three-dimensional state, reminding us that all images contain fragile truths.

In this exhibition the artists ‘trace’ is explored as both tool and subject matter through
manifestations of light. Via innovations of idiosyncratic photographic techniques, traces of the artist's physical engagement and manipulation of mediums are left as evidence on the surfaces and contours of pictures and sculptures. The ‘back-end’ production of analogue and digital images is brought to the forefront of vision through translation, simulacrum and pixelation, breaking illusions of representation. In reference to photographic positive and negative film, the gallery is divided into light and dark, moving the viewer between spaces where contrasts collapse scale, time and place into the present viewing moment.

Through their chosen manual approaches, an aura of the sublime is imbued in the works – from the beauty of both subject and haptic detail – to the apprehension of these laboured surfaces whose mainstream digital counterparts are fast supplanting the traditional techniques championed by both artists.

Kadie Salmon and Caroline Jane Harris met whilst artists in residence at the Florence Trust, London 2016–17. They both live and work in London.

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