That photography is a technology historically associated with truth is a fact. But the truth is that his relationship with that certainty was short-lived; the time it took its pioneers to adopt the medium as a form of artistic expression. The camera, far from keeping the photographer confined to the service of truth, has turned out to be a good instrument to transcend reality. Something that Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger soon understood, who, in their study and through, first, the deconstruction of some of the most famous images in the history of the photographic medium, delve into the nature and meaning of photography; in their ability to fascinate and disconcert at the same time, to show as much as they hide, and to entertain while stimulating their audience.
By building a model of one of the Twin Towers, enveloped in a dense tower of smoke, the Swiss artist duo initially manages to transport the viewer to the scene of the barbaric 9/11 attack. However, this visual illusion will be nullified when photographing these precise models together with the different tools used by photographers to reconstruct the scene. The game between reality and fiction and between the past and the present permeates the still lifes that make up Icons, the best known of the photographic series signed by Cortis & Sonderegger, in which they revisit snapshots as legendary as Death of a militiaman, made by Robert Capa during the Civil War. An image as famous as it is controversial, on which debates persist about its supposed staging, and even about its authorship. The series also includes the assembly of View from a window in Le Grasby Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the oldest surviving photograph, as well as that of Tiananmen Square, of Stuart Franklin, and that of Behind St. Lazare station, by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The reconstruction of the image taken by an unknown tourist in Indonesia, in 2004, takes us back to the moment before a tsunami turned paradise into hell and we will also find the reproduction of Buzz Aldrin’s footprint, which he himself photographed while walking on the first time the moon
Each of these iconic images contributed at the time to alter our way of looking at the world, and are part of the collective unconscious. A) Yes, Icons emphasizes the power that photography contains in itself through the interaction that occurs between what we are seeing and the memory of the original photograph. But at the same time it reminds us that photography is not an objective description of the event it represents, and on the contrary, it is still an illusion.
A small part of this well-known series can be seen within the programming of the latest edition of Getxophoto, which this year has brought its celebration forward to June. under the motto Imagine, and curated by Jon Uriarte, it presents more than twenty exhibitions. Samples that invite us to “develop a critical imagination that allows us to distinguish between what is happening, how we understand it and the projection we make of events”, as opposed to “the catastrophic or utopian forecasts that surround us”, as expressed by the commissar. “Images play a fundamental role in this task, since they are part of the knowledge and practices capable of creating unlikely connections through the imagination.”
British conceptual artist John Hilliard participates in the festival with a single image fixed on a wall, in an abandoned house in the Old Port of Algorta. belongs to the series OffScreen and it was taken during a meeting in which a group of people had been summoned to enjoy a slide show. The viewer will be surprised by the prominence that a blank screen takes on in the center of the image, displacing the assistants (supposed protagonists of the images that have been projected on it) as secondary elements. In this way, Hilliard questions the objectivity of the photographic shot, always dependent on the decisions made by the photographer. Although the series was made in the late 1990s, it is still relevant, in a time characterized by the dominance of screens and the algorithms that determine the images we consume.
Reinterpret the natural world through a machine
At first, the images that make up Neural Zoo, the series presented by the Argentine artist based in Lisbon, Sofía Crespo, seem to represent a suggestive and exotic set of animals and plants; parrots with colorful feathers, sinuous sea anemones or strange chrome-shelled beetles. But the more the viewer stops to analyze it, the more doubts are raised in him, as the representations become as familiar as they are unknown. The real seems to combine with the imaginary in these photographs that the author calls “speculative images”. They have been created using the most advanced means that artificial intelligence incorporates for image formation. To do this, Crespo starts by creating a data set made up of images of the natural world and uses neural networks to interpret them. The result is an image where nature has been reorganized, so that while she talks to us about the natural world, she distances herself from it. It is an exploration of how creativity works; of the recombination of the known to give way to new forms, and refers to the possibilities that exist beyond what we can see. In this process, Ella Crespo establishes similarities between the techniques used by AI and the way in which humans creatively express themselves and recognize the world, while she questions the potential of machines in artistic practice. Can art be reduced to the reassignment of data absorbed through sensory processes? the author asks.
Icons, Cortis & Sonderegger. Getxophoto. Ereaga beach. Gext. Biscay. Until June 26.
off-screen, John Hillard. Getxophoto. Daduena House. Gext. Biscay. Until June 26.
Neural Zoo. Sofia Crespo. Punta Begoña Galleries. Gext. Biscay. Until June 26.
You can follow BABELIA on Facebook Y Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.