Jerwood Space (The)

‘Blurred Certainty’ brings together eight international photographers who experiment with photography as both a medium of image manipulation and as ‘a window on reality’ – thereby manipulating reality. These artists interpret the notion of certainty through this window and, by reconstructing or distorting it, create images that flicker between something recognisable, yet strangely hard to place.

Since the Jerwood Space is a flat, commercial gallery, here holding 22 photographs that are, as basic objects, similarly smooth and two-dimensional, this show might not seem immediately engaging. But these works in fact coordinate a disorientating dynamic – pulling you to step closer and observe intricate, beguiling details in simple interplay between sharp and hazy finish, as the certainty and its blurred counterpart interact. By inviting the viewer to engage with this movement, these works shift from their flat screens, as the artists ‘seek a freedom of construction, a site for play, an area of experimentation [using] images as photographic objects to contemplate the bewildering environment.’

At the outset, Sandra Senn’s photographs freeze-frame the upshot of monumental commotion – piles of crumbled matter, perfectly composed as fragmented wrecks. Produced as ‘Archival pigment print on Hahnemuehle rag paper’, this describes immobile collision as a tight crayon illustration.

Landscape turns to the female body, with Dianna Lui’s highly staged portraits of a seductive voyeur, whose attentive, crisp perfection is tarnished by tiny taints or creases, together alluring – come closer. Beside these is Calanit Schachner’s ‘Seeing Blind’, a collaborative project made between the artist and a blind man, which offers sheen to dark distortion. In between such different effects, blur and certainty mingle as each scene shifts between stillness and motion, inviting you to step forward and observe intricacies or back-pedal to allow obscurities space to form an image.

Aliki Braine shows the reverse side of photographs, pricked with holes to form the ‘Shape, Skeleton and Foliage of 32 Species of Trees’. This seems immediately a disappointingly processed, bland screen, but step back and the crude ‘join the dots’ becomes a network of delicate, frail veins which rock as though leaves were shaking in the wind. This is very delicate and subtle.

Duncan Caratacus Clark, who curates this with Sarah Williams, presents historic, romantic black and white scenes of Switzerland. It seems unlikely that any passion could best be expressed via black and white photography, but Duncan is animated about his location: ‘This is how it means to me on an emotional level I only see things in black and white. It’s a distillation process, a simplification.’ So he creates using a large format camera and his ‘gut-instinct’, which blurs and intensifies a monochrome, i.e. certain, image.

Whilst we’re soaked in all this romanticism, Etienne Cl