Neil Atherton | The effect of time
“Speckled 9” and “Roland Garros”, two interesting series of Neil Atherton, an English photographer currently based in Paris. Since few years ago this artist is using out-of-date films (Fuji 400 expired in 1994). Indeed, no retouching or digital manipulation is used in the pictures.
N.A : “My Expired photographs are all about – the effect of time and how the traces left behind by the past shape and influence the modern world around us today. Many of my pictures that I’ve taken over the last few years could have been taken at anytime over the last few decades and it is this timelessness that I am looking to express in my work. Both the subject matter and the aged aesthetic of the film contribute to this sentiment we get when looking at the “Speckled” series for example. When I showed the pictures at an exhibition in Berlin last year, lots of former East Germans were convinced that the scenes were from Soviet-era Germany, when in reality they were taken in 2008 in Paris and London.”
Neil Atherton’s “Speckled” series captures the blank reality of mundane places and objects, found in peripheral locations of big cities that are often overlooked, forgotten about or abandoned over time. These urban landscapes are the unseen backdrops to the drama of everyday life, without the drama.
N.A : “The Speckled pictures were shot on expired film too and the effect is due to a combination of the emulsion’s reaction to the exposure to light and the developing chemicals at the lab where I processed the negatives. I like the spontaneity and unpredictability of using such material, especially in an age where image perfection is easier and easier to attain through post-production techniques. I do not retouch my photographs in any way. On the contrary, I appreciate their rough and ready quality and do not wish to remove the imperfections, which is what makes the pictures unique.”
N.A : “The pictures of the French Open at Roland Garros were taken in 2008 on the same rolls of film as the rest of the Speckled series. I was there with a photographer friend who was taking pictures for a photo agency. I managed to sneak into the pit below the court and snap a few frames of Nadal’s game in the main stadium. It was a great place to watch the tennis from, albeit dangerous – another photographer next to me was hit in the face by a service ball.”
N.A : “Like the rest of the Speckled series, these pictures add a timeless aspect to international tennis, which is usually captured in a glamourous light by the TV cameras and press coverage we see each year. In the Speckled pictures however, that glossy sheen is stripped away and the game could have been played any time in the last 20 years.”
Thanks to Neil Atherton for his collaboration.