Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Darren Almond, To Leave a Light Impression, White Cube, Bermondsey, London

The Full Moon photographs of Darren Almond evoke a sense of passing time. They show time in it’s immensity. Like telescopes looking out into space Almond’s photographs capture old time. The nature of photography is the capturing of light, and once light has been caught, it is already the past. This may seem obvious, but we don’t always think about it when looking at a photograph. With the photography of Darren Almond this is made explicit.

All the photographs in this exhibition are of remote places, and almost always uninhabited. We don’t see any people. There is often running water, which due to the manner of production (extremely long exposures of up to an hour using only the light of a full moon) resembles cloud. Only the rock of the mountains is in focus, or the ice of the glacier, only the slowest moving things. The sky is usually grey as the clouds merge over time, yet more still than the water. Except in one photograph we see the arcs made by the movement of stars, evidence that we ourselves are moving through space.

There is occasional evidence of humanity: a railway track running straight up the middle of one image; a bridge in another; a sequence of photographs of standing stones. The photographs themselves are evidence of humanity and the existence of a technological culture. The photographs of standing stones span this entire history, the technology of one culture observing another. All these photographs are the human gaze at nature. Is it a dispassionate gaze? scientific? artistic? Are we looking at Arcadia? A utopian vision of a world without humans? A world before humans? A world after humans? 

With these questions we return to the immensity of time. The moment of the photograph, this long moment, is but a blip. All is quiet but nothing is quite still. By capturing an hour in these beautiful images the artist shows us that the only constant is change. Even the mountains move.

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