VVVVVVVVVVVVV, 2019 – 2021

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VVVVVVVVVVVVV, 2019 – 2021

This series is an attempt at reconciling the camera’s interpretation of the world with my own and seeking out images that are uniquely photographic in their depiction of light, time, and space. Photographs are revered for their fidelity, and we expect them to depict their subjects in a manner that aligns perfectly within the human register of vision. We imbue the camera with the ability to see our same truth.

These images are studies of sunlight and its unique capability to both rationalize and redact.
When photographic film is exposed to an extraordinary amount of light, a threshold is crossed and solarization occurs: a reaction taking place on the atomic level producing an inversion of the image. Positive becomes negative. Light becomes dark. These photographs rely on the intensity of the sun’s reflection on water in order to conjure and record this fugitive photographic event. The resulting views are a splintered likeness of the landscape—relics from a moment shared with the camera that defy my understanding of what is visible, what is real, and what is possible.

This body of work is directly inspired by the iconic 19th century seascapes of Gustave Le Gray, not only in regard to subject matter, but more importantly, in the experimental approach he took when
it came to picture-making. Le Gray embraced the flaws of the fledgling medium and worked around the limitations of photographic material to fabricate images that, while divorced from reality, still bear a resemblance to the human experience. In doing so, he presents the impossible as the uncannily familiar. Through different means, he and I have arrived at methods that allow a photograph to describe two divergent realities simultaneously on a single plane.

The passageways into these visual rifts are elusive and fleeting—demanding specific atmospheric conditions and existing on a threshold that can be found just before the film loses its capacity for description. It is here that I am able to find a truth beyond my comprehension or understanding—a mooring just beyond my reach and demanding tireless pursuit.

–CJ Heyliger – August 1st, 2021