By Vesta, Director of Art @ Glorybox
Glorybox Photography, founder of the Eclipse Dark Room in Liverpool, is the city’s only public access traditional photography space. It has now set its sights on one of the most exciting and culturally diverse countries on earth to mark its first birthday.
Relocating to Japan for four awe-inspiring weeks of research, collaboration and discussion, this learning will contribute towards an enriched artistic programme and shine light on the basics of Japanese culture within photography, examining artists, audiences and their interaction with the dark arts.
Just weeks before we launched Eclipse, coinciding with LOOK/15, Liverpool’s International Photography Festival – which, by the way, we were thrilled to be a part of – we got wind of “Metamorphosis of Japan After the War”, a talk and exhibition from Marc Feustel at The Open Eye Gallery. It changed a lot for us. Who knew a year on we’d be packing our bags and heading East.
The photography was stunning, undeniably, but what Marc really opened us up to was the idea that artists and photographers, people and their beautiful minds, creators and observers from far-flung regions. Well, they have their own way of doing things, just like we do.
Japanese photographers consider and create their works under very different parameters, with different ideals, different outcomes, different intentions. Where our final photographic product might be, for example, a gallery exhibition, adorning a sterile space with the solitary image, the Japanese are practitioners of an art far more intimate.
Enter the photobook, not only a vessel, but a body with limbs cast from light and memory. This body holds those limbs in purpose and sequence, punctuated by margins, writing, space and page after page of tactile, sensory stimulation.
Despite advancements in technology creating a norm for virtually administered information, the physical Japanese photobook prevails. By its very nature, each photograph is an original, and so each photobook considered an original work. A new perspective, for us at least.
Our latest piece, Just You & The Moon, exhibited at the Threshold Festival 2016, was a live, alchemical reaction and social experiment, exploring the roles of the observer and the creator, paying homage to the moon.
Audiences were invited to step under the hood of a black curtain and switch on a light source to view the white paper underneath. Treated with silver nitrate and potassium chloride, the paper responds to light, and through the collective efforts and persistent interaction of the audience, the viewer became the creator of the piece, developing the latent image through observation alone.
We explored these new contexts. The compulsions in science, spiritual practice, the mundane and rawest subject matters, long conversations endured both with oneself and one’s few remaining friends, and further the delivery, interaction and understanding of one’s work through the viewer.
This artistic process, understood but never learned, we knew but couldn’t vocalise, we could see without being shown. The reason is the action. The art is the process. The pleasure is the journey, except for the fact that in each of us, the process that makes us the same makes us so very different.
This process is as unique as the fibres that create the framework which sustains our reality, as unique as the morals and values we hold, the intrinsic, astounding, omnipotent wisdom within, the knowing by feeling without knowing.
It is this knowing without knowing that has driven us so far.
Now we wish to know.
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