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experiments in seeing


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“[T]he question stands in the most intrinsic connection to the task of overcoming aesthetics, i.e. overcoming a particular conception of beings – as objects of representation”

Heidegger (Contributions to Philosophy)

De-framing: experiments in seeing interrogates the elements of the visual field as it is experienced by the gaze and configured by the photographic image. Positioned at the centre of the Humilitas project, this series considers the possibility of a humble image, an image that invites attentive viewing, seeking to expand our seeing beyond the frame. This is an open image, one where the subject's presence is loosened or softened in a muddying of foregrounds, midgrounds and backgrounds intended to delay the viewer's concrete reading. In a play of focal planes and limit states of visibility, the imaged subjects stand, diffuse or fall away.


De-framing employs the 250 mm f/ 5.6 Hasselblad Sonnar lens model used by Nasa in the pioneering 1968 photographs of the earth rising over the moon. The reason I chose this lens was not so as to bring the subject closer to the eye, but for the play with depth-of-field offered by its optics (4 elements in 3 groups). For example, images # 5 and 6 of the series aim to achieve a pictorial effect that, inspired by Claude Monet's renditions of light as it falls fleetingly on trees and prairies, invites a seeing that approximates an impression. *

Can the humble be drawn out through imaging?


What is the style of humility, of restraint, of ascesis?


Is there room for intervention in the humble image?


How can I open up the frame?

What elements can be loosened or undone?

Seeing afresh the illegible, the unintelligible, the formless

The events of nature are sudden and fleeting - one must be ready

Actuality, question, synthesis

I need to still - before I can see

To spend time with the world before me, before it  forms into an image

For the image to reflect that formative experience back to the viewer

What does the humble leave behind? The question of intention

The act of showing

* I reference the following paintings by Claude Monet: Autumn Effect at Argenteuil (1873); The Meadow (1879); Fields in the Spring (1887); A Bend in the Epte River (1888); Poplars on the Epte (1891); Poplars on the Bank of the Epte River (1891); Spring Meadow (Giverny) (1894).

Images: De-framing: experiments in seeing #1-6, Humilitas series, 2023. C-type prints from medium format film, 100 x 100 cm.

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