I arrived in Warsaw yesterday to participate to a panel mysteriously titled Culture as a space of freedom and anarchy. After which i braved the cold and visited a couple of art spaces. If ever you’re in town in the coming weeks, don’t miss Where Is the Green Rabbit? which explores the relations between art and science in a remarkably sensitive and humourous way.
Above photo by Regine Debatty
Steven Pippin, Mamiya 330 twin lens reflex shot with.25 calibre (self portrait), 2010
One of the most stunning work is Steven Pippin‘s Point Blank, a series of photos made by cameras recording the precise moment of their own destruction by a gun. I couldn’t find many pictures online of the final shots. There are two below but i can’t say that they represent the series adequately since the images of the ‘death’ of a camera looked surprisingly different from one another.
The action takes place in total darkness with the flash being triggered just as the bullet breaks open the analogue camera and hits the negative inside it.
Steven Pippin began the series Point Blank, comprising twenty photographs to date, in Wisconsin, USA, in 2010, and continued the series with several experiments in London. Despite the great technical precision that the project requires for its realization, it is ultimately the uncontrollability in the moment of the apparatus’s destruction that gives it its special charge. The color prints show abstract shard forms, broken structures, that are somewhat reminiscent of organic ramifications, yet through their artificial chromaticity they also refer to the chemical process used for their creation. In some of the pictures, it is possible to make out the bullet piercing the camera; sometimes in blurred motion, or, as in Deep Field, as an isolated planet in a universe of shattering particles. (via)
Looking through articles about his work, i realized that Pippin’s relentless investigation of the medium of photography is quite brilliant. He spent years turning mundane objects (a refrigerator, bath tub, wardrobe, etc.) into pinhole cameras. He even spent a 55 minute train journey transforming the train lavatory into a photographic studio.
Back in 1997, he converted a row of 12 front-loading washing machines in a New Jersey laundromat into as many cameras. Activated via trip wires, Pippin photographed himself moving through the launderette. In suit, without trousers, with a horse, running, walking backwards, etc. The photos are an homage to Muybridge’s explorations of motion through photography. This wasn’t Pippin’s first use of the domestic device. He had previously developed photographs in the wash and rinse cycles of the machines.
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Régine Debatty is the creator of the ‘We Make Money Not Art’ blog and an art show curator. She has also spoken at several conferences and festivals about the way artists, hackers and interaction designers (mis)use technology. Learn more about Régine Debatty.