THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: PART TWO

THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: PART TWO

Ben Browton

One of the most inspiring photographs I saw when I studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths was that of a heavy layer of dust that had fallen on Marcel Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even”. It was so evocative, so like those arial photographs from South America of huge ancient grids (Eric Von Danniken) that still puzzle today. However, in the Duchamp photograph, A similar image had been produced by accident in his studio on a much smaller scale.

This collection of my photographs spans the years 1982 to 2005. The images are the product of an inquiring mind and a hungry eye. They are flat-on and rudimentary in terms of technique. When I take a picture, I am hoping for some sort of a dialogue to open up, for there to be enough visual nourishment to bear repeated viewing, and the hope that through the reflective nature of photography, that something of my psyche will be revealed.

All of these images are a product of a chance encounter coupled with a determination to capture something of a tableaux or a vista that has wheeled into view whilst on my travels and my determination to record that image for further scrutiny, since the image, whilst having existed for a split-second (shutter speed) is an illusion.

Inherent in the process of photography for me is the fear of failure, because I am an amateur, technically speaking. We are surrounded by, and stifled by, perfect photographic images, whether in fashion or landscape or journalism. However, photography is a democratic activity, available to all.

As a trained artist, it is imperative to me to take good images, but I never wanted to get bogged down in technology, nor in the series/storyline-obsessed world of the jobbing photographer who deliver too much seduction, too much perfection, too much style-over-content fit only for glossy magazines consumed by the idle/bored.

Thus, what I have left is my discerning eye, the pre-camera, the organ that sends an image directly to the brain, where it is interpreted, and stored. Apropos of this, clearly there are thousands of photographs that I do not exhibit, because they do not hit the mark, or I have been let down by my technique. So be it. In choosing my strongest images, I hope to maximise the impact of individual photographs, in order to reveal myself and my preoccupations. This is the function of poetic metaphor.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
All of the images in this collection are original 35mm transparency images. I have not switched to digital photography yet. My reasoning for this is of matters of perpetuity, given that digital storage is an unknown quantity in terms of longevity and I still get perfect prints from twenty-five year old trannies. I also like the preciousness of storing a celluloid image in a glass mount; it feels like I am capturing light, preserving a moment, similar to seeing a piece of amber in which a fly was trapped thousands of years ago. Digital images are stored as dumb files; they have no tactility.

Also, as I said above, to avoid too much technology (a modern obsession), I keep my gear simple. I currently use two cameras, an Olympus Trip 35, and a Pentax ME Super with two lenses (28mm and 50mm).

To see more of my work, go to:
www.milm.com/guestsearch/benbrowton

For more information/to order prints, please contact me;
bbrowton@yahoo.co.uk

Tel - 0207 635 0683

Backyard Venus

I came across this obviously home-made sculpture in a shabby part of Fiumicino.

Bloody Hand Print

Farringdon, London. A closed-down architect s office. Then I noticed the hand print on the window. Morbid &

Blue Boats

These boats were tied up in the harbour in Morocco; an amazing spectacle.

Bronzecasting

Taken during the process of pouring molten bronze into moulds; the act of artistic creation freeze-framed.

Captive Gnomes

In a backstreet in Venice; covered in dust. Who would arrange such a bizarre scene?

Castle-Fog

I came across this atmospheric ruin in Scotland; there s something of Wuthering Heights about it.

Ceiling-Shadow

This really happened one evening in Spain. An enormous spooky face looming over the bed caused by light falling from a lampshade.

Che

Another Venetian backstreet. Odd to see this icon used so thoroughly by a Communist rearguard. Reflected in a window like a ghost.

Confort Normal

This I saw in a salt lake in Tunisia famous for mirages, but this traveller s toilet really did exist! Note the lavatory paper at the ready.

Curlicued Chairs

In a bricolage in a rural part of France. All lined up ready to be purchased. Fancy-looking things.

Edible Dummies

Packed in cellophane. Who would buy these things?

Effigy and Rose

I came across this moving sight in the famous English Cemetery in Rome. Someone had taken the time to place a fresh rose in the hands of the effigy. The inscription on the tomb said that the deceased was beautiful in life and would be in death. There is something of the tragic Ophelia about the effigy

Fog and Piazza

There was heavy fog the day I visited this historic religious town. This Di Chirico like piazza, with mingling tourists and blurred edges won me over.

Fog-Tower

Again I found a beauty in the church tower wreathed in fog, lost in the heavens.

Gnome Factory

On the edge of Dartmoor. No-one in sight, but clearly whoever has still got the arms to do. Bespoke garden gnomes? Odd!

Gondolier s lantern

The dusk was falling over the Grand Canal in Venice. I just thought that the lantern was beautiful and echoed the stunning architecture all around. A beacon of light.

Graffitti house

Pure simplicity; the combination of the childish drawing on a house wall with a real window above.

Graffitti-face

I loved the bizarre drawing; it s like Quentin Blake, and with amazing teeth. Who did this?

Lampshade-reflection-dusk

This looks like it should be a double exposure, but it s not. Just a fortunate combination of the right light/right time.

Mirror-window

Likewise; I turned the wrong way upon entering a square in Venice, and spotted the church reflected in a first-floor window. It looks almost human, as if it is looking out of the window, beauty surrounded by the mundanity of a distressed urban wall.

Moors Head Door Knocker

Another side-street in Venice. A tiny piece of history attached to a graffittied door.

Mosquito Nets

These were on sale in a market. They were drifting gently on a breeze, and I thought they looked like negligees, connected as they are with beds. Or coloured jellyfish.

Noise!

This was at Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland. It was a calm day, but I liked the implicit risk to eardrums at the wrong time.

Old door

Trastevere, Rome. This door was irresistible; it was so human.

Piramide Cestia

A view upwards of the famous Roman pyramid in Rome

Produzione Propria

Carnivorous delicacies from a region famous for wild boar. A shop window as stuffed as a sausage. One could even buy coglioni di mulo ; donkey testicles!

Pylons-Fog

In Dorset; you can see these pylons from miles away. They looked so powerful looming silently in the thick fog.

Sheep s Heads

I saw these in a market in Rome. The last time I had seen them was in Paris roasting on spits in cabinets on street corners. Very Mahgrebian, and somewhat disgusting.

Stained Glass and Stone Flags

I entered a small chapel in the South of France to escape the burning heat of the afternoon, and saw the sunlight falling through a stained glass window onto the stone flags. Beautiful. Like a mediaeval disco.

Stella Cometa

The Italians put up these beautiful shooting stars for Christmas every year. I found this one at dusk in the local village.

Stella Cometa and Ladder

I found this one in a beautiful mediaeval hilltop village out in the countryside. There s a kind of poetry with the man on a ladder; a stairway to heaven?

Stone Heads

These are just weird; they seem to be buried up to their necks in the English countryside. They look oriental. Most bizarre!

Swimmers

This is a sea-water Municipal swimming pool near Plymouth Hoe in Devon. I was attracted to the sheer amount of human pleasure/leisure activity on display in the sunshine.

Traffic

This typifies the chaos that is Cairo; I shot this from my hotel window on a longish exposure.

Wrapped Table

Another bizarre sight in a provincial town in France; a table wrapped in a blanket to keep it warm? A sub-Beuysian sculpture?
Ben Browton – NeverEverEverLand – tMx 20 – 07/05
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