matter's whispers S 13/2018, chemigram unique

Camera-less Photography is the designation commonly attributed to the technique used in these works. The process, chemigram, was named and invented in 1956 by Belgian artist, Pierre Cordier, with whom Gundi Falk collaborates and widely exhibits since 2011.





chemigram

Gundi Falk is an image maker with a unique ability to construct visual experiments. She is not interested in catching the real, the visible, but in what underlies the visible. Falk explores the possibility of constructing reality and has faith in the idea that constructions are as real as anything.

By questioning the very essence of the photographic process, she subverts the imaging process by depicting the chemical and physical events in a partially calculated way, rendering images not developing them. Working in many ways more like a painter than a photographer, she replaces the canvas with photographic paper and attempts to let representations emerge out of the abstract materiality of the chemicals as she manipulates them. She interprets and responds as the image progresses in front of her, incorporating what August Strindberg called, and later the Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists, “chance in artistic creation”.

The results hover between form and formlessness.

The images on display show what has never really existed and leave room to appeal to the imagination, accepting elements of mystery, revealing the unseen, the intangible, entering the labyrinth of the subconscious.  Although landscapes in subject matter, these works can also be seen as metaphors for her inner moods, offering insight into the mind of the artist.They are the result of a complex game of controlled and uncontrollable chance, impossible to realise by any other means.

The chemigram, invented in 1956 by Belgian artist Pierre Cordier with whom Falk has been collaborating and widely exhibiting since 2011, remains an opaque process. Although commonly described as a camera-less medium, it cannot be classed as a photograph or a photogram, for it does not rely solely on light or negatives to produce an image.

As in the case of the photogram, the result is unique.

These camera-less photographic images are the result of exposing photographic paper to the same chemicals usually employed to develop and fix images, but in unconventional ways. Additional materials localise and particularise the chemical events taking place. They include oil and varnish, but also honey, syrup or nail polish, all of which interact with the chemicals and paper in different ways.

Experiments in photography develop out of an idea about photography’s ability to give form to the intangible.

Methods and aesthetics associated with early science photography have surface again in recent years with profound and enduring influences into the field of fine art photographic practice.  This influence, rooted in the sense of wonder with which scientific images are often met, has helped to introduce a radically abstract vocabulary in the work of a range of artists interested in exploring the non figurative effects created by camera-less techniques.

Camera-less techniques were explored at the dawn of photography in the 1830s, were popular again during the 1920s, and have been rediscovered by contemporary artists in the midst of the digital age.

Various reasons seem to be responsible for the revival in recent years of an increasing interest in camera-less photography. Chief among them is the rapid expansion of networked digital technologies and their impact on traditional forms of photography. There is a nostalgia for the alchemical appeal of alternative chemistry-based processes which are now being further liberated from their descriptive functions to be reborn in radically modern ways.

The growing interest in camera-less photography has reinforced and rehabilitated the idea of the photograph as object, the notion that photographs are not only images but also things, and that photography can be a generative rather than imitative form. 

Isa Dreyer-Botelho

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GUNDI FALK. TROUÉES DE VISIBLE

par Véronique Bergen, Octobre 2017

 

 

Dans les travaux de Gundi Falk, le visible se décroche de ses règles, s’émancipe de ses lois afin d’explorer sa genèse, son mouvement dynamique. La magie de ses paysages tient à leur danse entre forme et informe, à leur donation d’un pur surgissement ouvert, mobile que rien n’emprisonne. La notion d’espace se voit dessaisie et ressaisie au sens où l’espace mis en œuvre par l’artiste ne préexiste pas à son tracé : il est libéré par le geste pictural. Déstabilisé par une expérience optique, perceptive qui subvertit la dualité abstraction/figuration, le spectateur fait l’épreuve de l’infini, de l’absence de bord, de limite.

Les œuvres de Gundi Falk délivrent l’expérience d’une rencontre à la fois physique et mentale. Jouant sur le proche et le lointain, sur les rythmes géologiques, les paysages sont autant des paysages géographiques, extérieurs, mondains que des paysages intérieurs, psychiques. Sérénité d’aplats surgissant du chaos ou big bang d’univers en fusion, de forces pulsionnelles, de phénomènes telluriques, canevas biologiques, poussées germinales, trouées de lumière ou explosions de masses ignées qui conduisent le visible, le sensible à leurs limites extrêmes… : les partitions cosmologiques de Gundi Falk accueillent le peuple des forces, le brasier des énergies avant leur stabilisation en formes.

 

Technique mise au point par Pierre Cordier en 1956, le chimigramme devient chez Gundi Falk un révélateur du monde externe, un capteur des abysses de l’univers intérieur : il est autant un physiogramme qu’un psychogramme.

À côté des paysages s’ouvre une exploration des traces et des dépôts du visible au travers de raclages, d’une déconstruction du chimigramme. Soumise à une violence qui la griffe, qui la souffle, l’image libère des coulées de lumière, des post-formes instables zébrées par des accidents visuels, par des phénomènes d’érosion. Allant au-delà de lui-même, de son cadre, le chimigramme excède sa syntaxe pour s’approcher de points d’implosion, de zones de conflagration. L’apaisement de certains paysages fait place à la déchirure des formes, à une entrée dans l’inquiétante étrangeté. Tous nos repères sont abolis. Nos grilles perceptives volent en éclats au rythme où l’image vacille, happée par un principe de déstabilisation. L’œil se raccroche à la stupéfiante beauté d’un autre monde que produisent ces créations travaillant la mémoire, les empreintes, la genèse, la vie interne de la matière.

Que la chimie soit la fille de l’alchimie, de la transmutation des matériaux, l’art de Gundi Falk l’atteste. Ses œuvres se posent dans une aura d’irréalité ; elles épousent la danse de la lumière et de l’ombre, donnent à voir des trouées lumineuses qui dérobent les assises de la représentation.

 

Inventer un autre régime du visible implique d’œuvrer à un nouveau régime de sentir, de penser, d’exister. Gundi Falk agence ces régimes inédits dont elle nous fait don.