Small Human Detail
Contains a main gallery of general photography and two smaller galleries of specific collections of photographs which follow a particular theme.
As well as the photography in this website there is also a 'gallery' of poetry by Martin Walls which supports some of the concepts seen in the photography.
Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust is published by: New Issues Press
Commonwealth is published by: March Street Press
The title of this website-Small Human Detail-borrows from the title of a book of poems by US-based poet Martin Walls, with whom I am collaborating.
Small Human Detail is a phrase at the centre of Walls' aesthetic philosophy, which is influenced by the work of Francis Ponge, Tomas Tranströmer, Yehuda Amichai, and other "objectivist" writers and artists. Briefly, it is the idea that aesthetic "truth" (for want of a better word) is found by meditating on commonplace, humble objects/situations that are transformed through poetic image-making and in turn transform both writer and reader.
Aesthetic objectivism is not a new idea—Buddhist, Romanticist, and Modernist/Imagist poets explored it—but it is made new by constantly paying attention to our ever—changing world.
Another of Walls' ideas also informs this project. Poetry transforms three—dimensional objects—snails, magnolia flowers, insects—into the two dimensional typeface of the printed page or the computer screen.There is a "flattening" of the world, as there is in photography. However, Walls contends that image—making—whether poetic or through the compositional work of the photographer—re—expands the flat world as it transforms it. Not literally. Rather, the flat world is expanded by the force of the human mind—by memory, conversation, or imagination. From two dimensions, we can get three, four, or more! This idea, explains Walls, will be familiar to readers of US philosopher and semiotician Charles S. Peirce.
Detailed shots of human geography and two-dimensional images are consistent in all of the photography found on Small Human Detail. The idea of combining the art forms of photography and poetry was inspired by an earlier collaboration with French artist Gerard Baron, which put my photography next to his collages. Though this is primarily a photography website, the parallels between both sets of work is an important component.
The photography here follows a loosely set format. Each image is a shot taken of the ground. They are two-dimensional with no perspective and no vanishing point, and are taken between distances of two to five feet from the ground. The composition, light, and colour are not altered and images are taken with low speed slide film through a 35mm lens. The wide angle opens up each shot to give the picture space. Objects rarely dominate a composition, and with a lack of perspective, it is not immediately clear what distance from the ground the shot is taken from. The image must be scene in its entirety, as a whole, before any detail is studied.
Each shot represents a place at a particular time and is titled and referenced accordingly. Though each section of the earth is, in effect, permanent in nature, the light, weather, and man interact and alter the composition constantly. No image is ever the same, just as no place ever remains the same to those who see it. A place evolves constantly and is at any one time unique.
A final note on the website: the website was designed by Shadric Toop and Jaime Dominguez and is the prototype for a new powerful online portfolio product called Electrofolio, which will be released in due course. Users will be able to subscribe to it online and then customise their own version of Electrofolio.
The theme of smallhumandetail.com is set as a slideshow with a slate grey background with an electric light yellow font. That way I can make believe I do not spend even more time in front of a computer screen than I already do!
Philip MacCabe, May 2007