We share an attraction to black, it seems.

Or maybe compulsion is a more apt term, given the wordless way the gut is pulled towards what the eyes see. How to describe the depth of it?

Let’s say that when profound blackness appears, it is a ‘tache’ (Fr.) – a blotch or stain emitting a low hum, a reverberating tone that resonates within the body. Such a visceral feeling defies words. Indeed it is the momentary loss of words and thoughts that provokes a kind of astonishment. But such a vacuum does not survive wondering, and words soon flood into the gap that black creates. Here: platinum, obsidian, soot; shadow, darkness, shade. Blackness initiates a cascade of metaphor: from the densely material to the elusively immaterial.

Blackness expresses ambivalence, then. Hole or whole? Perhaps blackness is irreducible – like a black hole, it suggests both extreme absence and dense materiality.

Unlike a silver print, with its emulsion, its degrees of glossy reflectiveness, its susceptibility to chemical degradation, the platinum print bites into the paper, and becomes fixed, matte - the paper permanently transformed. Thus, a photograph of a black paper wrapper bites into the printing paper (which was itself once contained by the wrapper) and becomes black paper. The indexicality of photography, squared.

One can imagine the pile of black packets in the corner of his studio – and picture the tactility and bibliophilic romance of paper enfolded in paper. No wonder he couldn’t bring himself to throw them out. Finally he had the idea to photograph them. Preserve them and pay tribute to them. The personality of each comes from the vestiges of securing, sticking, slicing, opening, unfolding.

His tenderness towards everyday processes and paraphernalia is affecting. Making an icon of the used packet, placing it centre-page, is also a nod to geometric abstraction, and re-enacts the occasional affinities between modernist/constructivist photography and painting. Here, black’s interplay with white sparks formal fluctuations, and reinforces a kind of conceptual undecideability. The white is a gap. It is also a stripe. Object or image? Index or illusion? Readymade or abstraction? This is where the compulsion leads – close observation and unending oscillation.

Kirstie Skinner

Platinum Print 2015 - 70cm x 70cm

COMPONENT V - Platinum Print 2011 - 70cm x 62cm

EXPANSION - Platinum Print 2011 - 78cm x 58cm

ENVELOPE I - Platinum Print 2007 - 46cm x 41cm

ENVELOPE III - Platinum Print 2007 - 62cm x 41cm

ENVELOPE VI - Platinum Print 2009 - 60cm x 60cm

EXPANSION IV - Platinum Print 2011 - 60cm x 56cm

EXPANSION I - Platinum Print 2010 - 60cm x 60cm

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Platinum Print 2015 - 64cm x 70cm