Sunday, June 25, 2006

Layer Cake Cahors

Years ago, when digital photography first met the amateur enthusiast masses, people looked upon Photoshop with more than a little suspicion. Breathtaking in its ability to manipulate digital images, it threatened to impose a new world order on us all, one complete with blue roses, relatives with three eyes, holiday snaps with our favourite celebrities... It threatened, in short, to dilute the perceived truth of the photographic image, to take untampered with moments of captured time, and smeer them with trickery and disingenious conceits.

Many ran away from image-editing technology, fearing that another glance at it would have them erasing the embarassing zit from their teenage daughter's debutante ball portrait; but there were others who looked upon it as a dormant new art form, one that could, with an arsenal of processor-intensive cross-layering, hue and saturation, erasing tools, eke out immortal works of art from even the most mediocre holiday snapshots. Kind of like this:

For a brief while, it looked as if it could work. Such montages tuned into the modernist preoccupation with fragments, into the postmodern preoccupation with the fissures that existed between layers of explicit, officially sanctioned meaning. Those who dismissed such efforts could be written off as establishment fuddy-duddies unable to see beyond nineteenth-century technology... There'd always be a problems with sales, of course - being digital, one print would be identical to the next - but such were the teething problems a new and radical art.

Of course, when it came to the crunch, no-one could actually sell things, particularly not for 80 Euros. Or can they? Altitude Zero and me came across a little exhibition in Cahors this summer, where one photographer was trying to do just that, and that's when we got thinking... Perhaps, just perhaps, we could get together a little exhibition of our own for the Cahors photography festival next summer...


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