My Inhuman World

Point G rocks 07

Whenever I don’t know what to take a picture of, I tend to take a picture of rocks. Point the camera at something without trace of human interference. Texture, process stilled in time. Then I look at the picture and think, I like it, but this is a bit old hat, isn’t it? But I keep on doing it. So I made all these pictures into a slide show.

It’s Mount Olympus, 1994; Point G, Bamako, Mali, 2004; river Niger, near Bamako, 2004; Constantine Bay, Cornwall, 2004; Hackney, 2005. Shown in Unhuman.

Inside cave, Lake District, December 1987

Inside cave, Lake District, December 1987

Taken a bit after this one, but a bit more my own. I love rock formations. All those metaphorically pregnant geological processes, and, ironically, the echoes of Futurism and Constructivism. Also, I think there’s something of the Philharmonic Hall going on in there. That building must have been etched into the visual and emotional systems of my brain quite early on – I would have been four when my oldest brother started going to the school prizegivings there.

Flooded valley, Lake District, December 1987

Flooded valley, Lake District, December 1987

As you can see, I was under the spell of Ansel Adams and the 35mm lens, equally. Maybe I liked this one because it looked like the kind of image they printed in how-to-do-photography books to train you to salivate at the sight of the enticing mysteries of mid-tones and the satisfying correctness of a full tonal range in black-and-white prints. As I write, I’m thinking about the typography of Ilford paper boxes, the sophisticated green of the Multigrade FB label, that took on some of that fetishistic desirability. I doubt I’ll ever aspire to know that much technical stuff about anything again. It’s a long time since I found the Apple logo remotely alluring.

Not Dead Yet

Three photos that I had in a show called 14 x 14: 14 artists, each showing a few pieces 14 inches square. I added some pragmatic white space for the show, obviously. It was at the long-gone Mafuji Gallery, on the second floor of a Victorian workshop building on Shacklewell Lane, Dalston (possibly Shacklewell – not sure where the boundary runs, strictly). It ran from 17 November to 15 December 2001, back when Dalston was the throbbing pulse of the obscurely avant-garde, a club I was unqualified to join, despite living in a bedsit on Evering Road. It was fun to go to exhibitions in semi-derelict post-industrial spaces, though, and try to work out what was the art and what was the debris – a confusion that I think was deliberately fostered. It’s still a popular gambit today, as I saw at last year’s Liverpool Biennial in the old sorting office on Copperas Hill. Last night I saw that it’s trickled down to post-retro pub design for the thirtysomething middle classes in Walthamstow, if the updated Chequers on the High Street is anything to go by. Anyway, these pictures now seem to nicely sum up some of my persistent obsessions. The numbers came from a bag of spare cassette labels that I’d been keeping for about 20 years by that point, sure that they must come in useful some time. I was right.

A photographer and film-maker working in art and documentary who lives in London