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PHOTOGRAPHIC FABRICATION AS NATURALLY EXPANDING REALITY


Text by Iga Koncka
A dialogue with artist Arnold Koroshegyi
 


Photography and reality have been intertwined since Joseph Nicéphore Niépce fabricated the first photographic etching in 1822. It was exactly two hundred years ago, and we still are amazed by this electric pair. Nowadays, we think about photographic machines and their abilities more than ever before. We know that photography is not objective, yet we still tend to forget how narrow and abstracted the photographic field of vision is (Boyle, 2013: 216).




Left: Arnold Koroshegyi, Electroscape (52°13'02.3"N 117°12'11.0"W), 2016

Right: Arnold Koroshegyi, Electroscape (52°10'52.6"N 117°03'27.7"W), 2016



Arnold Koroshegyi plays with human perception and photographic techniques in his two series, “Electroscapes” (2016) and “Artifice” (2016). The body of work “Electroscapes” exists as an art installation and a series of experimental images. Photographs incorporate digital processes with surveillance software and locative media. Aesthetically pleasing three-coloured gels are the layered base of his pictures. Koroshegyi uses the remote Canadian landscapes of Columbia Ice Fields to draw our attention to the digital waves people bring into nature. He uses FBI packet-sniffing surveillance software and an electro-smog meter to record electro-pulses emitted by wireless devices of tourists or park staff. The recorded data is processed through a computer programme which creates linear path maps. Suddenly, data scapes become a mountain track. Koroshegyi's work help us realise that the digital world is a part of our natural habitat, and we cannot separate it anymore. He provokes us to rethink what we know about the “natural” world around us.


Arnold Koroshegyi, Electroscape (52°12'45.1"N 117°13'55.7"W), 2016



The subject of nature seems to be a reoccurring theme for the artist as it also appears in the series “Artifice”. This time his focus is on flowers. Lynda Gammon, the curator of the exhibition “The Absence Of The Origin Of Its Likeness” (2016) featuring “Artifice”, suggests that Koroshegyi reinterprets the traditional genre of flower painting and pairs it with digital praxis. This art installation consists of flower arrangements, artificial foliage and fake sunsets created by a homemade purpose-built camera. The camera apparatus is mixed with technologies of the 19th and 21st centuries and a digital scanner. The scanner doesn’t function as an average one would. Instead, it records the linear motion of the focal plane. Additionally, the image is constructed with four different passes (one in black and white, another using the red filter, then the blue filter and then the green filter) and later composited in Photoshop.




Left: Arnold Koroshegyi, Artifice, 2016

Right: Arnold Koroshegyi, Artifice, 2016



Interestingly, the space camera Hubble uses a similar technique of layering the image. Hubble begins with seven black and white photos from three cameras to make a colourful image of the cosmos. Later, all the images are processed by photo-editing software. If there are some gaps in the incomplete picture from one shot, the program fills it with the data from another camera. Each image is assigned a colour; at the end, they come as one full-colour image (Boyle, 2013, p.222). Thinking deeper about Hubble also draws us back to “Electroscapes” and its normally invisible wavelengths. Hubble reveals what is beyond human vision. It analyses the wavelength filters: red, blue and green, and depends on the density and distance fabricated in the visible to us images (Boyle, 2013, p.222). “Electroscapes” operates with that technique on electro waves. We almost feel the images flow.


Arnold Koroshegyi, Digital scanner camera, 2016



Motion is vital to Koroshegyi on many levels. In “Artifice”, the movement of the plants is distorted, almost glitched. The artist uses artificial wind produced by fans, and a scanner-camera records the various focus points of flowing flowers. In both projects, the images are colourful and saturated. His “still life” is in digital motion. Pictures are frozen but still packed with so much potential movement. In both projects, the complicated processes of photo-making are conceptually elevated. The artist attempts to represent the un-representable while constantly playing with the idea of reality and the natural world (Gammon, 2016).


Arnold Koroshegyi, Installation (Museum London), 2016




ON THE ARCHIVE...

I am drawn to systems of communication, and everyday objects that form the archive of our social, physical, and technological landscape. In my work, I am interested in the continually evolving relationship in social histories embedded in locations and within the collected found object. By creating photographic series that suggest a communal human experience that is both familiar and unexpected, my practice often serves as a visual record, an archive or testimony to a collective, quotidian interaction. Usually, the archive is an underlying concept of my work. One of my current projects, however, does foreground the archive of the quotidian and the lost. It’s a photographic collection of the handwritten discarded dedications in books that have been cast off by their owners and that I have collected for over 15 years.



ON THE LAST 10 YEARS...

My belief is that an interdisciplinary approach to photography expands the possibilities of my image-making processes. This heterogeneous practice allows me to vary the ways I can visually explore my interests in territories at the margins, in the everyday, and in the creative expressions of both technology and ordinary human behaviour on the landscape.


ON ARCHIVE FEVER...


In a sense, my work is often in line with the idea of Archive Fever. Following Jacques Derrida’s characterisation of the archive as a public entity that is just as much the repository of the private and personal, my photographic work delves into this contradiction head-on be it through making visible the invisible, featuring the forgotten and discarded social object or documenting make shift locales, each image archives a glimpse of the past, unofficial and absent from history.


ON DISCOVERIES IN THE ARCHIVE...

One curious discovery I made while exploring archival material is the question of its reciprocal nature. Drawing loosely from what Marcel Mauss refers to as “the system of contractual gifts”, I have begun to artistically interpret decontextualised archived images (cast-off gifts, personal photographic collections) which makes me wonder about the giver and receiver’s obligations to the gift of the image, even when it’s abandoned. What we choose to do with the gift of the photographic archive and how to respond in some manner is what intrigues me.



 

REFERENCES

Boyle, C. (2013) ‘Eyes of the Machine: The Role of Imaginative Processes in the Construction of Unseen Realities via Photographic Images’, in Rubinstein D., Golding, J and Fisher, A. (ed.) On the Verge of Photography: Imaging Beyond Representation. Birmingham: ARTicle Press, pp. 211-237.

Gammon, L. (2016) ‘The Absence Of The Origin Of Its Likeness’, Lynda Gammon, January 6. Available at: https://lyndagammon.ca/2016/01/the-absence-of-the-origin-of-its-likeness/





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