It’s slightly morbid: the question of what an image is. A body of material, a skin of light, a chemical skeleton, anatomy of shape and line. The delight of coroners and large circling birds.
But what an image should or could be—the daydream of it, the excitement of it—is often the delight of the artist (and, no doubt, the viewer too). And if it’s not universally true, it’s true at least of Peter Franck who once said that “an image should be difficult, cumbersome, but humorous.”
Franck was describing a number of black and white slides he’d discovered back in 2015. Originally made in the 50s and 60s, the images looked every bit the mid-twentieth-century artifacts they were—that is, until Franck introduced them to color. Both astonishing and disorienting, it was as if the images had fallen asleep in Kansas and woken up in Oz.
Franck experiments with images incessantly, both those he’s taken and those he’s found. In his series of seascapes and landscapes, old collodions have been seared, bleared, and smeared (to borrow a lyric from Hopkins). Strange objects emerge; familiar objects turn strange. Inside out, wrong-way-round, merging, erupting, collapsing: the where, when, and how of it all slips by the sentinels of physics and leaves in its wake a ruin of time and humiliation of matter.
Some moments in history seem more dissociated from reason than others. Ours feels particularly absurd. In that spirit, Franck’s work summons Beckett to the stage for an encore and offers Alfred Jarry (father of pataphysics) an open mic. The poet Bruno Nagel is the “voice between noise” in this feature. His poetry branches out from Franck’s photographs in ordinal directions—like Hamlet, a bit mad, “but mad north-north-west.”
ONE FOR THE MONKEY TWO FOR THE SHOW
THREE FOR THE READY MADE FOUR FAR GO
FIVE FOR THE CONCEPT SIX FOR THE SENSE
SEVEN FOR THE STAIRS EIGHT FOR THE HANDS
NINE FOR THE OCEAN TEN FOR THE SOUND
ELEVEN FOR THE CONTACT TWELVE GOES AROUND
don’t wait _ go
SPECIFIC OBJECTS WITHOUT FORM
SPECIFIC SUBJECTS WITHOUT NORM
SOMETIMES SOMETIMES GONE
SOMETIMES ONE FOR ONE
A AFTER AH O BEFORE OH
VALIDATE THE PICTURESHOW
VOICE BETWEEN NOISE RENDER THE FILE
AFTER A WHILE YOU KNOW THE STYLE
I WHY WHY A WAY AWAY CAN I GO OR CAN I STAY
DO U DU YOU VOODOO DO AC DC MUH MUH MUH
PUSH THE PUTTON THROW YOUR SHOE
Peter Franck recently won the LensCulture Art Photography Awards 2018. Check it out here. To see the full series of landscapes and seascapes, among others, visit Franck’s website, http://www.peterfranck.de, and subscribe to his Instagram. To learn more about the curious and wonderful goings-on of Bruno Nagel, visit http://www.sprachbehausung.de.
Featured Image: Landscape 23022 © Peter Franck