00A, Dominique Somers, 2015
Published by Art Paper Editions, APE#057, ISBN 9789490800383
Text by Inge Henneman
318 pages, 314 b&w images, first edition of 500 copies, 21 x 15 x 2 cm
8 different covers
Graphic design: Studio Jurgen Maelfeyt
In the 00A pictures, something of the conditions of image-making by the technical apparatus becomes visible. That which precedes depiction. The degree zero of the photo. - Inge Henneman
For years Dominique Somers has been collecting the first, automatic exposures on analogue photographic film; the “blind”, throwaway shots one mechanically makes while loading the camera and forwarding the film to its starting position. The book 00A contains 314 of those found black-and-white pictures, selected from the artist's larger archive. Each 00A exposure is the result of an uncontrolled mechanical process, of looking without an “I”. Surely the viewing machine has registered what appeared in front of the lens but without an operator the camera remains a myopic dispositif without intention or insight. The automatic image thus reveals something of the substance of the medium, apart from its subject.
Yet penetrating to the essence of photography at the same time destroys its functionality: the image becomes almost entirely abstract. It represents nothing but the photographic process itself. In a single tautological movement the gaze turns on itself. This particular form of photographic abstraction is part of the plastic material with which Somers works. In the repetition of hundreds of 00A images she insists on another way of looking, on sensitivity to sculpting with light and white noise, attention to detail, on capturing the unsteady, fragile appearance of motifs that lose all specificity and threaten to dissolve into the material of the image itself. And in the slow, attentive process of collecting, selecting, editing and remixing of this photographic “waste material”, a liberating, ludic power of the imagination eventually takes over which is not pre-programmed by the apparatus.
The publication is financially supported by the Flemish Community and School of Arts Ghent / UGent. It is made within the context of the doctoral research project entitled Everything That Shines Sees.
Available on RIOT's webshop: http://riot-ghent.org