Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Darren Harvey-Regan, The Erratics

Jul 18, 2017 - Sjoerd Knibbeler

Sometimes, when developing an idea or work, things just seem to fall into place. It feels a bit like being a witness to your own creative process. Some exhilaration is probably involved, but it also raises questions: How did this happen? And what is this place things just fell into? Darren Harvey-Regan’s recently published book The Erratics explores these themes and in doing so playfully rearranges some of photography’s most persistent traditions. The cardboard backed book contains forty images – roughly divided into two series – and text by Darren that I would describe as a hesitant journal, exploring the interplay between fleeting, fragile thoughts and solidifying artistic gestures.

 

So what is it about? The simple answer could be: Sculpting rock. Darren presents us with two types of images – landscapes and still lives – showing rocks of the same material: chalk. This sediment was formed from the remains of algae that lived in long gone oceans during the Crateceous period, millions of years ago. The white cliffs on England’s south coast are made of the stuff, which is where Darren collected the chalk for his still lives. He also found it in Egypt in the form of chalk ventifacts that feature in his landscapes.

 

Chalk ventifacts are natural monoliths arisen through aeolian processes. Or in other words, large rock formations shaped by wind erosion. In the Egyptian White desert, frequent storms are responsible for sandblasting magnificent sculptural forms in the chalk deposits. Deposits that were built up in an ocean, layer for layer, only to be broken down in an arid desert, storm after storm. When looking at Darren’s photographs of these monoliths, not only do the aeons that have passed before the moment he released the shutter become apparent. Quite literally, the images seem to refer to the opposite extremes on their continuum: An ocean turned into desert, life turned into death and horizontal strata turned into vertical pillars. Between such distant opposites the transformational process leaves me puzzled; I can visualize a state of departure and accept the slice of time these photographs take. I might even prospect the rubble that these monoliths will eventually turn into. Yet I am unable to really come to terms with what happens in between. Studying geologic history will only help me on a cognitive level.

 

The still lives provoke different thoughts. Here Darren presents the process of human intervention, working on a more comprehensible time-scale. First of all in replacing the context of these rocks: from the white cliff on the coast to the white plinth in the studio. Secondly in the carving applied to them, manipulating the chalk so that flat surfaces, lines and corners appear. Lastly, in photographing the arrangements in such ways that the space these images evoke is extended and transformed by the carved rocks. In the context of the Egyptian ventifacts, these sculptured rocks lead to an odd realization. Here, I can come to terms with processes in between, but I cannot undo the play on perception. Cognitively I can, but in direct observation my eyes deceive me. The images simply demand it.

 

“In geology, an erratic is a rock that differs in type from those around it, having been carried over large distances by long-vanished glaciers”, reads the first sentence of the book’s blurb. How does it differ? In its new context the erratic looks like an anomaly. Yet depending on your perspective, it just might have fallen in its right place.

 

The Erratics came out last May and can be ordered through RVB BooksHere you can find more of Darren’s work.