Monday, January 17, 2011

Big Bangs, Big Bucks

Geoffrey H. Short, Untitled Explosion #6CP (2007)

This week saw the opening of Big Bangs, Big Bucks (14 January-12 March), an exhibition of works by New Zealander, Geoffrey H. Short (a recent nominee of the Lacoste/Elysee Photography Prize) and Russian, Nikolai Ishchuk at Diemar/Noble Photography just off Oxford Street, London.

Geoffrey H. Short, Untitled Explosion #7LF (2007)

Geoffrey H. Short, Untitled Explosion #8CP (2007)

Short's series, towards another (big bang) theory, has you asking how have these photographs they been taken? Is this a real ball of flames? Wouldn't that be a bit dangerous? Is this just CGI? Why have these been taken? What do the flames represent? They look pretty cool but are these photographs just an excuse to exercise the school boy inclination to blow things up?

Short goes some way to answering these questions on his blog, with a behind the scenes video of the making of the images.

The gallery notes explain further: Short "collaborates with special effects technicians to document images of controlled explosions, exploring ideas of risk, beauty, terror and sublime…they make for an unpredictable, dramatic and multi-layered imaging material…[they are] an investigation into the difference between the live experience of an explosion and the two-dimensional representation of it as an aesthetic object".


Geoffrey H. Short, Untitled Explosion #9LF (2007)

So yes the flames are real, yes things are being blown up and they are beautiful but they do aim to make the viewer think about the terror and anxiety normally associated with an uncontrolled explosion.  Either way, I like them for that I could see them on my wall and for what they represent.

Geoffrey H. Short, Untitled Explosion #5CP (2007)

Money is an equally explosive subject.  It represents the highs and lows, drives evil and terror and in many cases cause the wars which bring the explosions and feelings of anxiety generated in Short's images.

Nikolai Ishchuk, Big Bucks: GBP 50 (2009-ongoing)

Ishchuk's images aim to make you analyse the material form of money. The magnified images at face value are very Warhol-esque as the colours of each country's banknotes vary, making them great to look at, even when no meaning is read into them.  However, it soon becomes clear that the colours are not the only difference; the denominations and value of the notes are.  From one US Dollar, to fifty Pounds, to the one hundred trillion dollar note from Zimbabwe, the values show the differences between the countries to which they belong; the viewer reads more into their meaning.

Nikolai Ishchuk, Big Bucks: AUD 10 (2009-ongoing)

Nikolai Ishchuk, Big Bucks: USD 1 (2009-ongoing)

Ischuk says of the series, Big Bucks: "by turning banknotes into large detailed and colorful canvases. Thus, they become totems, objects of worship and celebration, both exploiting and subverting the cult status of money…[Due to color shifts, size etc.] it is a comment on the mutable character of money, its endless transitions to and from various imaginary states (not unlike art itself), serving, among other things, as a metaphor for boom and bust, the bubbles and the crunches."

Nikolai Ishchuk, Big Bucks: ZWD 100 000 000 000 000 (2009-ongoing)

Both artists show work with equally big personality and drama; Short's medium is explosions and Ishchuk's is money. Each are stunningly photographed and are ideal photographs to stun and amaze visitors who will be drawn in to study their detail.

Big Bangs, Big Bucks is on at Diemar/Noble Photography until 12 March 2011.  You can see more of Nikolai Ishchuk's work on therealimage.eu. Geoffrey H. short has a great blog in which you can see some behind the scenes footage of how his photographs were taken at geoffreyhshort.wordpress.com.
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