Written With Darkness

DAB Gallery
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Background Photographic exhibitions traditionally show works on white walls with evenly distributed lighting, with emphasis on the works, not the surrounding environment. `Written with darkness was an exhibition of a selection of photographs that had darkness as their primary subject, theme or technique. The design of the display attempted to reinforce these ideas by using black walls, accurately focused lighting and preprogrammed dimming in selected areas that only turned on for a limited time Contribution We were interested in how viewers would react when they were forced to look at the works in an unexpected way would they question how they saw and perhaps even how the photographers saw how their subjects were lit? The photographs emerged from the darkness (rather like an image gradually appears in the chemicals in the photographers darkroom) and then faded back into the darkness. Viewers had to wait some time if they wanted to see the same work again or they could move on to the next work that became illuminated. To our knowledge this type of display had not been attempted before. Significance The exhibition had hundreds of visitors and scores of them recorded their reactions. Comments were either enthusiastic about how stimulating the technique was or outraged that they had been forced to view in a controlled way. Many thought it was disrespectful to the artists but in fact all artists had agreed and approved of the result. The exhibition was widely reviewed in the newspapers and specialist press, with equally split opinions.
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