Nadia Attura is a landscape photographer from United Kingdom, who has a very unique process of using several images collected on location, then layered in camera or at the studio, which together they convey a sense of place and time. Juxtapose Magazine.
Photographs or paintings?
There is a lot of work in the world of photographic art that sits at the intersection of photograph and painting. Works that sit at this intersection use the photographic process as a starting point, or incorporate the products of a photographic process, and through layering and elaboration develop the image into something hand rendered, and, presumably, access meanings not available to a straightforward image. A great deal can be added to the emotional atmosphere of an image this way.
All means of getting at the artist's vision and putting it on display are legitimate and it is certainly interesting to know how an artist has achieved a particular result. But in so many articles that I run across about this kind of work, the salient feature of the image becomes the process the artist uses to arrive at the result. Consider the headline quote above rewritten this way:
The landscapes of Nadia Attura convey an unusual sense of place and time.
In my re-write, what is evoked in the writer by the image becomes the lead, rather than the technique used to produce the image.
I see this over and over again. I see it because writers and editors have learned what attracts attention and causes people to click through to the content and I get it, the process used to make a work of art is more accessible to the general public and the writer than what the work of art says.
It could be because the imagery itself is not that exciting but there is space to fill.
It could also be because we are increasingly attracted to things that have come about with a great deal of human effort. Artisanal things. Things we believe can't be made by a machine or computational process. Things that involve a great deal of human discipline, practice and development are to be admired and valued.
Certainly, the quality of hand rendering is not easy to perceive when viewing it in the magazine or on line. That quality needs to be called to our attention if we are to see it at all, though some of us experienced with production methods that might lead to the qualities the image has can suspect it.
Photographs are very closely tied to the idea of objectivity and the possibility of mass dissemination. Even today, in a time when those of us used to reading images know better, the saying "pictures, or it didn't happen," is a nod to the photograph's capacity to render the "truth" of things.
Photographers struggle with this as they attempt to compete in the art world and make a living. There are photographers who have stayed with film and the darkroom because they feel the process adds something to an image that can't be achieved digitally. It adds the possibility of adjustment by the artist and serendipity. It is a process where errors can happen or be coxed in. Each print can be one of a kind.
An artist in a show I am part of prints her images and then uses sandpaper to selectively remove or obscure parts of the image. The result is not unlike the image above.
I have succumbed to the need to make my prints rare, if not one of a kind. I limit the edition of prints that can be made from the source file. It allows me to charge more for the image and sell it in galleries as a work of art. It is also an arbitrary limitation placed for marketing purposes. Still, no article on limited edition photographs ever leads with the limitedness of the edition as the prime selling point for paying attention.
The tendency to elevate the process over the content is disturbing to me. At the end of the day, it's the content that matters. No amount of technique and process can drive content into art that doesn't have it. These are means to an expressive end. Most likely, the artist arrived at their techniques and processes because it seemed the best way to express the inner dialogue they were having with their subject material.