Diana and Friends

a group show

23 Mar - 6 Apr 2011

Diana and Friends is a group photographic show curated by Wendy Richdale, exploring experimental photography, lomography, lo-fi and analogue techniques.

Each artist has used this lo-fi approach to explore the ‘happy accidents’ that occur when control of the medium is released and chance is embraced.

Artists: Zoe Benbrook, Lisa Benson, Tim Carter, Georgie Gaddum, Dave Gardener, Adrienne Grant, Claire Goldsworthy, Kate Jones, Pranesh Lal, Mark Liu, Luke McConnell, Margi Moore, Simon Nicholls, Wendy Richdale, Naomi Williams, and Stefanie Young

Essay by Ed Hanfling:

Ruminations on Perfection and Imperfection

Perhaps I would not rule out the possibility whatever we might think of as a great, memorable or arresting image is as likely the product of accident or imperfection as of skill or genius. If there was a recipe for success in the making of images (for example, those we consider to be art, specifically ‘good’ art), we would cease to make images that surprised us. The process of making (and the act of looking) would lack meaning or motive. The whole fun of image-making lies in the discrepancy between images we like and do not like, between the images that “work” and those that do not, between the compelling and the ordinary. There is frustration too, because we cannot explain exactly why one image turns out better than another. Value is located not in specific achievements, but in the unfathomable, the indescribable, even the unintentional. Carefully planned compositions, ingeniously engineered effects, rigorously honed techniques – these may all be in vain. Yet the hasty, unpremeditated action or method, the hazy blob or uncontrolled distortion, may offer up something revelatory, beyond existing expectations and standards.

To use a “Lomo” camera is to embrace and encourage imperfection. It may be that in art and in life generally, with increasingly sophisticated technology, there is undue emphasis on precision. Does high resolution go hand-in-hand with hyper-reality – a world of images that are so convincing they have outdone (and become) reality, where the interference of the medium is invisible or irrelevant? If so, Lomo is the antidote. To use old technology might be to express a lack of satisfaction with the heights of technical accomplishment. It might suggest that perfection is not perfect for all of us all of the time, or that there are different kinds of perfection to be found within that which initially seems imperfect. It provides also a means of going back, as opposed to the current and horrible cliché, “going forward”. On the other hand, a deliberate archaism carries with it the possibility of contrivance and self-consciousness. The result might be merely retro, and not surprising in the least.

But if we are not entirely serious, then most of the above comes to seem like a whole lot of po-faced tosh. It might be that earnestly discussing values and standards, and hyper-reality and all that, is to lose sight of what this exhibition is all about. Messing around – playing – with Lomo, and splashing the results all over the “white cube”, probably has more in keeping with a bit of text what’s not grammatical, or, like, more informal lingo. Perhaps I should complement the down-home wonkiness of Lomo with a rambling yarn about something perfectly mundane, such as, say, my cat, Captain Springs, just because he is curled up here on the couch beside me as I write. I must admit that I am suspicious of “fun”; contestants on American Idol disingenuously say they just want to have fun, as they torture themselves in hopes of making it big. But I hope you will find that this exhibition delivers a more humble and genuine kind of pleasure.

Edward Hanfling