Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Working on ‘Lightscapes’, I have been exploring the night in a new way, stripping away normal visual references to focus not on the landscape itself, but on the vivid scars of light that pierce the darkness. Vast industrialised cities and iconic landmarks are represented as anonymous patterns of light, whilst the contours of buildings are stripped away to reveal the contents within.
I'll never forget sitting in a lecture room as a student, listening to the lecturer talk about the birth of modernity through the night sky lit by light. For those people who first encountered the artificial light of electricity at night in large cities, it was a frightening, almost traumatic experience, that was also simultaneously exciting. Imagine it: being used to the night being completely dark, and suddenly, it is lit by emanating specks.
This is why I find James Reeve's photography project, "Lightscapes", so fascinating, because it highlights what we now take for granted: the seductiveness of the city landscape at night, speckled by light. I find his use of the term "scar" striking here, because it evokes the vivid trauma of light to those used to the dark at the dawn of the modern age. It also suggests layers hidden beneath the scar, almost as if the lights that form his night-time landscapes are the doorway to the interior heart of the city.
Watching the city at night has to be one of my favourite things to do. At night, you can imagine a city as an autonomous entity. It's both isolating and comforting. I could stare at these photos all day, they almost seem to have an emotional visual language to them.
All images copyright James Reeve. Found via Kulte tumblr.