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Optic Nerve at Photofusion - Abstract Colour Photography

Richard Caldicott, Robert Davies, Garry Fabian Miller, Daro Montag, Roderick Packe & Neil Reddy

Until 17 Jan 04

Optic Nerve brings together the work of six artists who share an experimental and unconventional approach to photography. Often working without cameras, lenses, film or even light, they all produce luminous, colour-saturated images that question traditional ideas about what a photograph is and how it can be made.

Rather than capturing a single 'decisive moment', they create images that record the transitory passage of time, tracing and superimposing the optical effects of improvised but highly controlled processes to reveal new visual spaces and seductive tonalities.

Their work has a simplicity and visual intensity that is both contemplative and challenging and suggests many possible connections to modernist painting and visionary cinema.

It is to the work of experimental and abstract filmmakers, of whom Stan Brakhage and Jordan Belson are perhaps the most well known, that the Optic Nerve artists can most closely be compared. The directness, simplicity and inventiveness of their use of materials and light are a part of what they have in common: contrary to much current manipulation of photographic imagery, no computer technology is used here. Optical, chemical and mechanical effects and experimental techniques that intensively explore the potentials of natural phenomena are common to all of these artists. Rather than technical sophistication or digital complexity, they are concerned with inquiry, invention and intuitive improvisation through simple manual processes that have their equivalent in the work of Brakhage or Belson.
Derek Horton, catalogue essay

The exhibition is curated by Roderick Packe and organised by Wolsey Art Gallery. A full-colour catalogue with an essay by Derek Horton accompanies the exhibition priced at £12.

17a Electric Lane
London SW9 8LA

Gallery open: Tues, Thurs & Fri 10am - 6pm; Wed 10am - 8pm; Sat 11am - 6pm
Gallery closed: Sun, Mon & Bank Holidays
Free admission and wheelchair access

Tel: 020 7738 5774
Fax: 020 7738 5509

OPTIC NERVE - Abstract Colour Photography

Talks & Events

Optic Nerve Panel Discussion
Tuesday 9 December at 7.15pm
Tickets £3

This panel discussion is an opportunity to find out more about the works in the exhibition, discover the techniques the artists employ and what drives them to make these photographs. Derek Horton, writer of Optic Nerve essay will chair this event.

To book a place, contact Photofusion on 020 7738 5774 or email
Photofusion Gallery, 17a Electric Lane, London SW9 8LA

Four Films by Stan Brakhage
Sunday 7 December at 4pm
Tickets £8
This is a great opportunity to view a selection of works from one of the most inspirational avant-garde filmmakers of the 20th century, who considered the goal of cinema to be the liberation of the eye itself and consequently offered audiences new ways of seeing. The screening will be introduced by Roderick Packe, curator and contributing artist of Optic Nerve.

Dog Star Man
1961-64, silent, colour, 16mm, 75 minutes

Brakhage's most famous film, one of the key works of the 1960s American avant-garde, experimented with the use of colour, painting on film and distorting lenses, while depicting the creation of the universe. It ends with superimpositions of solar flares and chains of mountains over his wife, as she gives birth to their child.
Ronald Bergan, The Guardian

1963, silent, colour, 16mm, 4 minutes

Brakhage made Mothlight without a camera. He just pasted moth wings and flowers on a clear strip of film and ran it through the printing machine. Jonas Mekas, co-founder of Anthology

Ephemeral Solidity
1993, 16mm, 5 minutes

This is one of the most elaborately edited of all the hand-painted films of late - a Haydenesque complexity of thematic variations on a totally visual (ie un-musical) theme. Stan Brakhage

1993, USA, silent, colour, 16mm, 3 minutes

This is a hand-painted film which has been photographically step-printed to achieve various effects of brief fades and fluidity-of-motion, and makes partial use of painted frames in repetition (for 'close-ups' of textures). The tone of the film is primarily dark blue, and the paint is composed (and re-photographed microscopically) to suggest galactic forms in a space of stars. Stan Brakhage

For tickets and information, please contact The OTHER Cinema on 020 7734 1506 (open from 1pm - 9pm daily). The OTHER Cinema, Rupert Street, London, W1D 7PR. Web:


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