The Materiality of Colour

[Winter 2019]

By Jacques Doyon

From the manipulation of light (through decomposition, combination of layers, or diffraction effects) to work on the supporting medium (film, photographic paper, walls) to searching out pictorial compositions on city streets, a space of exploration opens up for photography around the various manifestations of colour. The result is images that challenge our perceptions. Often, the referent for these works is abstract painting, with its long tradition of experimentation, but the real also bears its share of perceptual ambiguity with regard to the impact of colours and their use on the walls of our cities.

Light has always been central to Yann Pocreau’s work, at first serving as the setting for a corporeal presence anchored to the essential lines of a space. Later, bodies were gradually supplanted by light alone, as Pocreau investigated its role in the materialization of space through slide projections in which he played with white and shadow and combinations of various colour filters. He then turned from the surface of walls to the surfaces of photographic paper, exploring their capacity to reflect light and render colour. This opened the path to his current research on the variations of different colour systems in photography related to experiments with pictorial abstraction.

Jessica Eaton’s Iterations (I) is the first presentation of the result of two years of intensive experimentation in the studio. This series continues her unique approach to production of abstract photographic images made entirely in camera, through multiple exposures and direct – and blind – captures of manipulations of grey-painted objects and the use of coloured filters. Iterations (I) offers a series of complex optical variations based on the systematic permutation of additive colour elements, frame within frame, to build a sort of tunnel of vision vibrating with colour that ultimately dominates the presentation space, which, in fact, is only an opening, increasingly narrow, on the background wall. A second series plays on variations of perceptual pre-eminence of a monochromatic foreground against contrasting colours on the vertical surface behind and on the horizontal surface.

Colour is also very present in Bert Danckaert’s work, which is produced not through experimentation with light, but through perceptual data drawn from an existing reality that Danckaert throws into relief to expose its inherent composition. These scenes from urban environments are more or less the same in every large city in the world. Danckaert frames them almost as if they were abstract paintings, emphasizing a geometry of coloured planes from which elements of the urban landscape emerge. These images often denote a slightly derisory attempt to re-create nature as artificial within an inimical, often unkempt environment – an utter departure from the flashy, stylish monuments with which we associate the identity of cities.
Translated by Käthe Roth

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