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THE COMPLEX PRESENTS AN EXHIBITION BY GEORGE HOOKER
Did you see the soft light earlier today?
I began taking photos because I was afraid of losing my memory. I found that a photograph could conjure up a whole forgotten time in my life, so I began documenting everything. Soon however, the camera began to lead me places. At first, just off the path towards a particularly nice tree, then deeper into the woods, and soon I began discovering spaces or seeing things that I never would have otherwise. Planet earth became a stranger home, and much more detailed and vibrant. The camera would change the world every time I had it with me, and suddenly an old man with balloons would walk by, or a cloud would burst just right, or I would notice a balcony that I’ve walked past a thousand times. The way people behave, right down to how they hold their hands or their head, can seem alien and poetic through a camera. The absurd ways we behave as humans, with our traditions and behaviours - both mundane and spectacular - and the wondrous ways nature behaves, as a ubiquitous awesome entity; these are the things I’m drawn to. I believe that magic and absurdity is always there, everywhere, waiting to be found. I believe that within contradictions, and between breaths, there is a little truth about life, and this is what I have obsessively tried to photograph in the last 10 years.
The majority of the photos in this exhibition have been taken on a 1971 Nikon FE, on 35mm film which was hand-developed and scanned by myself here in The Complex. The initial reason I began taking photos on film was a practical one. One day, my computer, camera, and thousands of digital photographs were stolen. It was as if a part of my life, remembered only in images, was taken from me. An analog camera was the only practical choice for me at that point. I discovered that film slowed me down as a photographer, and made me more decisive. I fell in love with the idea of catching little moments and keeping them through a chemical reaction on celluloid. Every photo I took on the FE, felt like a moment I was stealing back from time, and so the camera went with me everywhere. The finality of taking a photograph on film was a thrill that pushed me ever further off the path, and over a broken fence and beyond, to find a better frame. I began developing and scanning film myself when I became a studio artist here in The Complex, and this has given all new meaning to my use of film as a medium. I have always loved the fallibility and errors of film, and absolutely consider them part of the images I take, as they are part of the process. Every image in this exhibition is literally a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. The light-burn reminds me that I am not capturing reality - just her shadow on the wall.
I believe that every action or struggle can have a profound meaning with the right eyes, since through these details, all of life can be examined. If such things could be documented, it could be a way to share meaning and understanding and joy. As a visual person with a visual memory, photographing is a way of catching these moments, for myself as well as others. I believe that all of my photography is some form of documentary photography, including in portraits, where I am still trying to photograph the effervescent expression that is like a waiting-station for all the smiles and frowns and other looks we hold because we think we should. This exhibition represents my attempts to capture the liminal space between emotion and expression, and the absurd nature of life all around us, using a camera.