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Book of the Week: A Pick by George Slade

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by George Slade George Slade selects Dark City by Lynn Saville as Book of the Week.
Dark CityBy Lynn SavilleDamiani, 2015.
This week’s Book of the Week pick comes from George Slade who has selected Dark City by Lynn Saville from Damiani.

"Working as a color photographer at night is partly an act of intuition, partly suspension of disbelief, partly an exercise in attentive patience. Photographers like Lynn Saville — referred to, informally and in certain contexts under the collective moniker of 'Nocturnists' — make a leap of faith between first-person viewing of a scene and the production of a convincing photograph from it. Furthermore, given what appears to be a predilection for unspectacular, quotidian spaces that, in daylight, would not seem to warrant attention as photographic fodder, Lynn further ups the ante for herself.

While I was working in Boston a few years ago, I invited Lynn to come to town and give a workshop. I had come to learn that there were quite a few Nocturnists in town, and I hoped they would receive Lynn cordially. I think this native North Carolinian charmed everyone, despite now being a resident of that loathed big city where the hated Yankees dwell.

What I continually find transcendent and noteworthy about Lynn’s photographs is that she accomplishes something akin to genetic recoding. She probes inside the guts of a scene to ascertain its potential character as an image. And, as I noted in the first paragraph, she does this blindfolded, without a laparoscopic reconnaissance device to guide her.

I enjoy seeing the night world as she sees it. She has an artist’s sense for visual delight and an urban philosopher’s attitude toward a city’s built environment. I am drawn to a statement Lynn once made, how she 'began to see how a scene first perceived as vacant had its own secret plenitude: a lively visual conversation among tools, abandoned objects, and reflections.' Vacancy, in other words, is not absence. And finding ways to address absence in photography has been one of my guiding conceptual conceits over many years.

Lynn’s skill is that of a super-hero or an owl, defying standard human biology, which limits our ability to ascertain color after dark. In Dark City, the most recent of her nocturnal investigations, Lynn continues to define herself as an optical alchemist who transforms leaden dross into shimmering, revelatory gold."—George Slade

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Dark CityBy Lynn SavilleDamiani, 2015.
Dark CityBy Lynn SavilleDamiani, 2015.

George Slade is the founder and director of TC Photo, a non-profit concentrating on programs connecting photography and communities. He is a curator, historian, consultant, and a long-time contributor to photo-eye. His writings can be found in print in Black & White, Minnesota History, and numerous monographs, and online in his blog re:photographica. He lives in Minneapolis.

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1 comment:

  1. When I wrote, in the first paragraph, that the collective name for these photographers is "Nocturnists," I was incorrect. Nocturnists are doctors who work on night shifts. I was referring to "The Nocturnes." Their website explains that "The Nocturnes is an organization dedicated to night photography. Founded by Tim Baskerville in 1991 in San Francisco, it has grown to become the premier source of information and education pertaining to night photography, as well as an international community for night photographers. 'Our mission,' states Baskerville, 'is to promote night photography, so that people come to think of it beyond the visual cliches of neon lights, Christmas tree lights and fireworks.'" They both work after dark, anyway, but I apologize for getting the name wrong.