To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the golden age of alpinism, Agnieszka Kozlowska proposes to set off across the Alps and climb to locations overlooking more than 40 peaks ascended for the first time in that period (1854-1865). Using a heretofore unexplored photographic technique, she will produce a relief in a light-sensitive polymer plate exposed directly in-camera for several hours at each site. With this project she continues her investigation into the potential of photographs, understood as physical traces rather than purely visual phenomena, to “communicate embodied experience” of remote natural environments.
“Constructing primitive cameras, using historical and alternative photographic processes and materials, as well as making paper, I focus on such experimental use of photographic techniques whereby the object encountered by the viewer is the very same object that has been exposed in the camera. I am interested in how those unique auratic artefacts affected by rays of light reflected off the scene in front of the lens can signify that which escapes pictorial representation.“
In her work, Agnieszka Kozlowska subverts the notion of photography as a fully controlled technological system for producing intangible images. She understands the medium as a natural phenomenon where human agency is one among many forces influencing the outcome and where the formation of an image is constantly at stake. Her recent practice-driven research project entitled Taking Photographs Beyond the Visual explores the capacity of photographs to operate beyond conventionalized systems of meaning, as embodied experiences of landscape, receptors for the sensorial dimension of the physical surroundings. The project involved a laborious and time-consuming process that gave rise to 24 photographic objects. After hiking to an alpine location, Agnieszka Kozlowska produced paper on-site from local plants and, relying solely on the inherent light-sensitivity of vegetal substances, exposed it for many days in a camera built there from found natural materials. The resulting photographic artefacts function as physical traces that, through their very presence, testify to the exposure having taken place. The work proposes a way of photographically representing place as elemental instead of through cultural constructs such as ‘landscape’ or ‘the scenic’.
Agnieszka Kozlowska is an artist and researcher living in Newcastle. You can browse other projects mentioned in her portfolio at kozlowska.eu.
Photos: Agnieszka Kozlowska