Smoke and Mirrors: construction, trickery and surface in my work from a historical perspective

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    An article which assesses the role of materiality in Colvin's work, and particularly it’s significance in relation to the visual, literary and scientific themes explored within these works, seen in relation to the three-dimensional explorations of my recent ‘Natural Magic’ exhibition. The article was developed from an invited paper given at the SSHoP conference Photography in Scotland: 'then, now and beyond our time' at the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Gallery, Edinburgh 27-28th March 2009.
    The article explores ideas of surface texture in the photographic image as a conceptual element, a theme which has become apparent through recent bodies of work in conjunction with technological developments in photography. A range of work is discussed in relation to methods of print production utilized for each project. Through this narrative Colvin discusses ideas inherent in the projects, and present an alternative reading of the works. This ‘exploration’ of surface image is presented predominantly through trompe l'oeil works, creating the impression of a surface that has a different three-dimensional structure to the painting. Initially Colvin turned the trompe l'oeil issue on its head - making the solid look flat. Colvin painted over three-dimensional structures and alignment was maintained because the final scene was photographed from the only point where this was possible. When viewing these photographs, the solid scene is initially overlooked and pictorial flatness dominates perception. With more protracted viewing, the objects in the scene emerge and a strange tension is introduced between the solid and the flat, between the scene and the seen. Objects in three dimensions are intentionally merged in the picture plane - and their identity is perceived after the flatness is transcended. The works in the ‘Natural Magic’ series represent a further development, and their conceptual and visual significance is discussed here.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-51
    Number of pages8
    JournalStudies in Photography
    Issue numbern/a
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • trompe l'oeil


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