Illuminated Islands by Charles Dennington

    Illuminated Islands by Charles Dennington

By altering a block of raw material on every part of its surface authorship is
called into attention. Alteration by an artist becomes something that can be post
rationalized as being a transmutation of matter that exposes the mutability of
form as a possible vision of a direct interaction with “the natural laws”.
As synecdochic devices my art explores the way fragmentary form can symbolise a whole being or a whole object. Using the part as a proxy for the whole. Seeable structural remnants become sculpted skeletal formworks for “real virtual“ but not actually present figures.
Alberto Giacometti instilled viewing distance into the gesturally daubed plaster details for his bronze casts “...it is the block of plaster which is near, the imaginary figure which is distant.”1 A “not wholly present” form of a reduced sculpture might live on peripheral vision.
Squashed matter  can shift perception.
By a similar token a photographic image may be almost completely obscured behind a haze of artifacts specific to itself as a medium.
                                                                    Photography becomes visible as a medium where we once looked directly through it.
To contrast this, in photographs with a strong narrative direction or in photographs that are propped/staged we see that the image is an
index, a real token mapping a range of forethought and planning towards a back story of decipherable readings.2
Similar to the transmutation of the surface of a lump of metal, light may be “applied”
as temporal smears to a chemical sheet providing a recording of the primary iteration of
photography. Light made everything change.
Perhaps we are left with pure inscription. Photography doing what photography can do.
Photographs are stuck in limbo of contrasts that define itself. A facial facade can be a stark contrast of receding and advancing space. Through
photography a facade is expanded to be both simultaneously visible and visibly hidden.
This limbo is apt as portraits of others are a balancing act of introversion versus extroversion.
Connection and disconnectedness.
Through tonality alone photography depicts an actual thing coming into actuality and receding into obscurity.
Lets further explore photography’s confusing existence:
In Beekeeping (left) we see a young boy involved in an activity surrounded by busy hands and
a muscular arm of an older man recalling the masculinity of his future self. If photography were
an activity and a medium filled with ambivalences towards its own existence than children
become strangely loaded photographic subjects.
“...the adolescent and the medium have so much in common:
1. Both are marked by a profound confusion about the relation between appearance and essence.
2. Both are caught awkwardly between past and future, unable to move with any certainty toward either.
3. Both have difficult relations with their parents but can’t imagine being parents themselves.
4. Neither can explain their existence very well.
They suit each other perfectly... As photography finally enters its philosophical phase, in which it attempts to figure out its own condition, it is no surprise that
it circles endlessly around the figure of the adolescent. The medium is photographing itself!”
3
The illuminated islands of detail in a photograph may combine constellationally. Similar to the interconnected
daubs of applied material that combine to describe a complete form in a painting or in one of Giacometti’s near or
far viewed sculptures. Highlights become traces, an information system based on primary visual connections.
From these illuminated islands actual symbols or typographical characters may emerge. They are highly specific
but they are unavoidably real and can not be a fictional language system but a new one.
Is it not true that the space in between apparently different photographs is a vibrant
cornucopia of meanings? As a thinking medium photography has the power to elude to
spaces in between itself.
Photographs move with you. They are soluble.
Notes

1. Sartre, Jean Paul. “The Search for the Absolute (1948),” in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art : A Sourcebook of Artists Writings (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996), 187.

2. Bedford, Christopher. “Qualifying Photography as Art, or, Is Photography All It Can Be?” in Words Without Pictures, ed. Charlotte Cotton and Alex Klein (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2008). 7

3. Campany, David. “Response” in Words Without Pictures, ed. Charlotte Cotton and Alex Klein (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2008). 197

Images (left to right)

1. Charles Dennington. Pewter cube. 2013. Pewter. 6cm square.

2. Charles Dennington. Installation detail from Advancing Receding Volume. Sydney College of Art, 2013. Found object on concrete floor. (Dimensions Variable).

3. Charles Dennington. Untitled studio experimentation. 2015. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

4. Charles Dennington. Untitled studio experimentation. 2015. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

5. Charles Dennington. Untitled studio experimentation. 2015. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

6. Charles Dennington. The Sun. 2014. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

7. Charles Dennington. The Sun II. 2014. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

8. Charles Dennington. Two Portraits. 2013. Archival pigment print. 127 x 55 cm.

9. Charles Dennington. Black and white egg. 2013. Eggshell, Gouache. Dimensions variable. (Installation detail from Double, Time. Climb. Galerie Pompom, Sydney 2013).

10. Charles Dennington. Beekeeping. 2015. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

11. Charles Dennington. Two portraits III (detail). 2013. Archival pigment print. 127 x 45.6cm.

12. Charles Dennington. The Moon II. 2014. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

13. Charles Dennington. Installation detail from Advancing Receding Volume. Sydney College of Art, 2013. Sculpture (gouache, foamcore) on found object. (Dimensions Variable).

14. Charles Dennington. The Moon. 2014. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

15. Charles Dennington. Untitled. 2014. Digital scan of negative film. Dimensions undecided.

All images © Charles Dennington

Charles Dennington is represented by Galerie Pompom, Sydney.
charlesdennington.com