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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Douglas Mandry - Unseen Sights

Mar 13, 2019

The series “Unseen Sights” is a corpus of black and white photographs selected from various trips and recolorized by hand, in studio, using a range of interventions such as acrylic paint and airbrush. The original pictures depict a primitive and idealized nature, empty of any human intervention. However, the photographed landscapes are often the surroundings of touristic sites, where nature has become a consumption good, ready to be visited and therefore photographed. By reconstructing my own pictures I create, starting from reality, a fantasized version of the land, which blends personal and collective experience. As of then, the landscapes only exist through those transformations, and are henceforth visible through this surreal prism. Often used since the 19th century, analog photograph colorization was applied to enhance the realism of their content. A technique that I use, exagerate and reactualize as an alternative to Photoshop. The goal of my work is to question the status of photography being a material object in an era of surproduction and consumption of digital images. In a contemporary context, my work aims to be a constant reaction to the digitalisation of photography.


Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

What do pictures really want?

Mar 19, 2019 - Douglas Mandry

The questions raised by the post-internet generation of artists and photographers who, like me, have experienced the shift to a truely digital experience of images in their early practice years, have since years brought a new way of approaching photography and image-making.

 

Yet I still feel concerned today by photography being both a material and immaterial object. Not in its constitution – pixels or silver gelatin on paper, a photograph is a photograph, but more in its dichotomy between a physical object (a print, an image on a computer) and its ability to be a mental space for projections (memories, interpretation).

 

WJT Mitchell formulates this in his essay «What do pictures really want?»: photography consists in «replacing mental imagery by its physical equivalent» and vice versa.

 

In an always more digitalized world, my work is a constant reaction to technological acceleration and its consequences on the man-nature relationship. Photography being known as a tool for the observation of nature and scientific research, it has become for me a way to question our relationship to time, space and memory through an experimental and almost sculptural practice, which merges traditional photographic processes with natural and man-made elements. My latest work «Monuments» is connecting my constant exploration of the medium to a broader concern on climate change and its consequences on swiss landscape – therefore the image of it.


The future in reverse

Mar 18, 2019 - Douglas Mandry

The project «Monuments» which I am developping currently, takes as starting point the melting phenomenon of glaciers in Switzerland. Rather than being a documentation, it is a reflection on this phenomenon, using collected material to include it in the photographic process, in order to question our relationship to time, memory and materiality. The work is constituted of several typologies, each of them creating a connection between subject and photographic object. On the one hand, I collect found photographs from the 1930’s, early signs of alpine tourism in Switzerland and testifying of the grandeur of swiss glaciers, as well as their commercial potential. Those images are printed on geotextile (commonly called «glacier blanket»), material created and used specifically to protect glaciers during too hot summer time.
Those blankets are collected after a season on the mountains, and printed on using the process of lithography. This operation generates a form of double-exposure: the glorifying images of snowy mountains merge with present traces of rust, water and earth on the fabric — signs of a vain attempt of man to slow down a process which he himself contributed to start.

 

On the other hand, ice blocs are collected from the same glacier and used to create photograms, directly exposed as they melt in the lab onto photosensitive paper. The result is a crystalisation of the act of melting, represented onto one single piece of paper, and simulating a permanent, yet impossible state of the ice.

 

Those layers of experimentation are assembled in a space installation, where formats, materials and status express their meaning until the last step of the project – the physical experience of it.


Not the given, but the possible

Mar 15, 2019 - Douglas Mandry

«The abstract photograph signifies not the given but the possible. And in an image-choked world, perhaps it signifies a necessary antidote to a growing numbness, an image-blindness.»
Lyle Rexer, «The edge of vision: rise of abstraction in photography», Aperture, 2009

 

How to represent a century of decay within one photograph?
How close can I bring melting ice to photosensitive paper?
Is paper the only solution to show a photogram?
How to carry the ice?
Can I fix the process into a definitive state,

which would recall to its original transitory state?
Can you see the back and the front of a photograph, all at once?
How do I hang the pictures if there is no front and no back?
Is the title self-explanatory? Or too descriptive?

Etc. etc. until the opening of the exhibition (often even after).


Equivalences – a photograph of a photograph

Mar 14, 2019 - Douglas Mandry

Sharing here some words from Robert Shore, who wrote the foreword of my newly published and first book «Equivalences», designed by Nicolas Polli and published by RVB BOOKS.

 

«In «Equivalences», we see the original photographs, and then see them again in altered states, with their layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black variously exposed to view, like geological heatmaps. Mandry likes the physicality of analogue photography. ‘It has some randomness, a sort of loss of control,’ he says. ‘It is chemistry, and almost magic in a way.’ He likes mechanical techniques too, slowly and carefully exploring their value to the photographer.

If the original pictures are the artist’s interpretations of geographical reality, the variants that result from the examination of offset printing’s potentialities could be classified as machine-driven reinterpretations of the artist’s work. Playfully, the printer’s operations allow new shapes and, in a Stieglitzian manner, equivalences to appear, with the book finally documenting a journey – but not a physical one taken through a real, human landscape, but rather a colourful shuttling through more alien, uninhabited climes – there are no humans here – moving between technological exploration and surreal fantasy.»

 

Find out more about the book here.