Targets, 2015

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Targets, 2015

Targets​ began as an experiment celebrating fallibility and questioning the criteria used to qualify a photograph as either successful or unsuccessful. Inspired by Herrigel’s ​Zen and the Art of Archery​ and the Mental Exercise​ drawings of Mel Bochner, I place a sheet of film in my camera and make five attempts at placing the sun in the exact center of the frame.

In making this series, I hold a view camera in my hands—a somewhat cumbersome instrument that normally requires the use of a tripod to obtain predictable results—and rely on my physical orientation to make an attempt at the desired composition. A unique feature of this tool is that once a sheet of film has been loaded into the camera, the image on the ground glass becomes obscured—“v​iewing”​ and “taking” must take place consecutively. I am unable to see what the camera sees when making ​Targets—​ I am working “blind”.

Once a site has been identified, the camera is loaded with film and five attempts are made at placing the sun in the center of the frame. After five exposures have accumulated on the surface of the film, it is replaced with a fresh sheet and I continue working until five sheets have been exposed—making for 25 attempts in total.

As the “composition” of each piece is designed around a central point, the images are printed as circles radiating from the center while the paper retains the proportions of the sheet of film itself. The prints are made on deacidified newsprint putting them in conversation with common paper targets. When hung from the top corners, this lightweight paper moves in response to the viewer as they approach the piece. These reactions are a visual continuation of the consequence of the minute movements that are so integral to the creation of the photographs themselves.

The resulting images are endlessly perplexing. They take on false volumes—appearing at times to be convex and concave simultaneously. Additionally, there are analogies to celestial bodies that have no direct referent. They are fraudulent constellations that have been fabricated by the camera. I am intrigued by the idea that these images rely on failure in order to be successful. A camera is a tool that relies on precision, yet the beauty of the work stems from our human imperfection and the virtue of the attempt itself.

–CJ Heyliger