Saturday, April 11, 2009

seascape: susan collins

the fourth early 2009 entry is from a catalogue essay for Susan Collins' new work Seascape. The work as installed has five feeds from cameras timed to accumulate one pixel every quarter of a second or so, filling the screen in roughly the time for a full tide cycle

There is a curious design feature of CCD chips. To make the orientation and structure of the crystal lattice identical to that of the underlying chip, the crystals are grown on the chip itself. This is the reason why their production is called ‘fabrication’ rather than ‘manufacture’: the scales are far, far smaller than human hands or tools. It is a game with the very fabric of the world. There is a kind of automation here, one premised on fundamental laws of nature, rather like the process of photography itself, analog or digital, which relies on the properties of light and light-sensitive materials. In a certain sense, admiring the steady build of the pixels in Seascape, you have the sense of the image being grown, as the crystal lattice was, and that the image has the orientation and structure of the world in front of it, even though the process is such that it never resembles a snapshot.

For those two or three seconds that are required to make a little row of eight or nine pixels that stand out because of their pallor or their darkness, there was perhaps a brief spell of sunlight or thick cloud or rain. The oddity is that the assembled image should have such a large-scale resemblance to a familiar snapshot of any moment of waves rippling. The sea, like many crystals, has a certain long-range order to it, a self-similarity over time, a kind of symmetry across the tidal cycle. It is that self-similarity, that symmetry, that is captured in these images. A strange mathematical gathering of the sea, a restless formulation, unsettled settling into order of the orderless; a sedimentation, a crystallisation.

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