I went to Nettie Horn this week to see Sinter Werner’s latest show, Along the Sight Lines. I’ve been following Werner’s practice for a while now; she makes site-specific installations, collages, large-format slides and photo prints that explore the unstable, illusory experience of perception. Standing in front of her pieces feels a bit like looking through one eye and then the other and seeing the scene in front of you jump. My favourite piece in this show was a photo-collage, Milos IV (2010): Two black and white photographs showing a gnarly island rock are layered one on top of the other and box-framed. Following the lines of the rock’s nooks and crannies, Werner has carefully cut small shapes from the top layer to reveal the second image underneath, which is slightly out of focus. It is a subtle intervention, but enough to recall something of a 3D experience – that of peering through the holes and cavities in an actual rock face to the mysterious (fuzzy) darkness within. It’s interesting that, while the differently focused layers do create a kind of illusion of depth, the collage calls more attention to the very flatness of the photographs, and the dimensionality/physicality that they lack.

Talking to Paul Carey-Kent, Werner says of her practice: “It points up how you can’t really trust anything you perceive … there is not one truth, everything is subjective and changing all the time. And the world is mediated through 2D media, which you come to rely on.”

In the same conversation, she references Foucault’s 1967 lecture ‘Different Spaces’ and his idea of ‘heterotopias’ – alternative spaces that bring together within one actual place, various relations of proximity (emplacements) that seem incompatible in themselves. Like theatre and cinema auditoria, and like gardens.

“ … the theatre brings onto the rectangle of the stage a whole succession of places that are unrelated to one another; in the same way, the cinema is a very curious rectangular hall at the back of which one sees a three-dimensional space projected onto a two-dimensional screen; but perhaps the oldest example of these heterotopias, in the form of contradictory emplacements, is the garden … The traditional garden of the Persians was a sacred space that is said to have joined together within its rectangle four parts representing four parts of the world, with a space even more sacred than the others which was like the umbilicus, the navel of the world at its center (this was the location of the basin and the fountain); and all the garden’s vegetation was supposed to be distributed within that space, within that figurative microcosm.”

I remember that Peter Ainsworth described his father’s garden as a stage for his photography.

It is interesting that some of my newest slides have come back looking rather like an animation set – the lines of white paper flags demarcating the vegetable patch resemble miniature strings of bunting, and set up a curious sense of scale against the shoots and leaves.


I spent an evening with my slide projectors this week, combining frames from my June/July shoots to create double exposure effects. Turning one bulb on and then the another, I thought about the differences between single and overlaid compositions, the way the quiet portraits of the individual shots are transformed into kind of noisy, more complicated images when a new layer is added. Where two slides overlap and combine, new forms are suggested and new associations are formed. There is a sense of ambiguity and changefulness in the composite image, a hint of movement almost.

I love that film projections are not quite static, that they have a fragile, hovering quality: they can and might disappear at any moment. These double-images seem to heighten that sense of suspension, they are in-between two moments, an amalgam, a fiction. While I have tried to combine the two layers subtly, masking out sections of one or other frame so that the double-image is not overpowering, there is still a sense of disjunction and a knowledge that the scenes have been assembled, constructed.

Like Fischli & Weiss’s Projection 4 (P), 1997, where double-exposed slides of mushrooms and other plants are projected over each other to create huge and dissolving composite scenes. A little more psychedelic than my experiments, but nevertheless interesting to compare:

“The translucency of the slide images only adds to the confusing morass of curvilinear forms that never quite reach a comfortable zone of complete abstraction. Each plant form represented is never whole or autonomous; even if a viewer tries to freeze one for a moment, it quickly becomes something else.”
(from Slide Show, Darsie Alexander, Baltimore Museum of Art, 2005, pp. 99-100)

I went to Culpeper on Saturday morning, a nice time to visit as there weren’t many people around. After all the rain the garden was looking lush and green. I took a couple of rolls of slide film, focussing on a carefully planted vegetable patch, whose rows of what I think are onions and kale are framed by strings of white paper markers.

I also shot about 30 feet of super 8 film. Inspired by the idea of the seasonal exchange between garden and city, one potentially giving way to the other as the environmental conditions change, I’ve started looking at the buildings that surround the garden walls. At the moment the foliage is dense, and the houses, windows, architectural details are just snippets glimpsed (or glimpsing) through the green. But as the winter draws on and the leaves fall, I imagine the city will become much more visible, more present in the space.

The camera, a Canon AZ 814, was given to me by my mum’s ex-boyfriend, who used it when he was an art student in the 80’s. I’ve only used it in two or three projects, and am still a bit tentative handling it. But it is such a pleasure to hear it ticking away, to watch the counter turn; the stock feels quite precious and I enjoy the nervous excitement of not knowing how and if it will have come out. The eyepiece and viewfinder seem very small compared to my SLR and my digital cameras, and I really have to squint hard to get the focus right. The lens transforms the colours and texture of the garden around me – the prism-screen shading the scene in a kind of grainy-grey, parts of the frame given a kind of reddish tint where, I guess, the lens has aged. As I peer down into the body of the camera, the scene already feels quite ‘other’ to the actual landscape in front of me, it is framed, extracted and transformed.