Saturday, June 23, 2012
Photographer: Mark Nelson
Posted by Harry Warwick
The Dying Light
The maritime prospect is an exciting one for the photographer. Even before the camera intervenes, the sea is already a marvellously referential body, replicating the sky’s blue in its own natural aesthetic act. But in the series of photographs I have selected here, Mark Nelson both injects meaning into and preserves the beauty of images of the shoreline. His shots and modifications lift this everyday, physical space onto the metaphysical plane of thought, where our very existence in that space is questioned.
The ontological challenge is most palpable in ‘Iron Born’. All that is left of the human is its silhouette, which the whitish haze of the sea gradually overcomes. The whole scene, from the erasure of the person itself to the endless, ominous blue of sky and shore, is invested with the deathly, with the post-apocalyptic. Yet the fatality that Nelson’s photograph prophecies is juxtaposed with the wind turbine and the building, perhaps a control tower, which rupture that symbolic coherence. These mysterious figures are faint and in the background, almost as though they are disappearing—as though, instead of the tide, it is the modern world that recedes.
Compare this with the millenarianism of ‘Somewhere’. The shoreline here is transfigured for the opposite purpose: to depict an idyllic scene that is, critically, inhabitable by humans, as the minute couple to the left of centre affirm. Whereas the common, singular, and bleak destination of mankind is evoked in ‘Iron Born’, this photograph suggests that, somewhere, we can find a utopian future. The astounding beauty of this and the other images above is in immediate, perennial, and provocative conflict with their intrinsic themes of death and rebirth.
Buy Marks work from: Society6.com