Lost is a work that draws on Whistler’s Nocturnes, (1866-77) a series of paintings that represent an impression of a place rather than the place itself. Whistler produced his Nocturnes by observing a scene at night, then going home to bed and in the morning painting what he recalled from memory.
The subject of Lost is a small but dense wood, selected for its small size and lack of distinguishing features, a place that in the daytime is normally overlooked. The work aims to reveal an image that shifts our perception of the common place, revealing an imagined place. Lost describes not the location of the wood but the sensation of being in the place and the effect of being lost in dense woods at night.
At night the woods absorb and remove any sense of reference to a specific location. This sensation of being denied any reference point stimulates the imagination, and with it a latent fear of the forest, as a place that is culturally coded as foreboding and dangerous. The denial of vision has the effect of stimulating our senses causing the imagination to work, to fill in what we cannot see with imagined subjects and scenarios. The work aims to draw the viewer into the imagined experience of being lost, not in the physical sense but metaphorically.
The photographic images are rendered from long exposures in the dark, showing what cannot be seen with the naked eye. In this sense the images are made from the accumulation of time, in which traces of the effects of the exposed time are recorded; it is as if time itself makes the picture. The breakdown in colour values and the digital aberrations in the images are the result of the camera’s interpretation of insufficient data .The images act as a metaphor for when vision breaks down. Our imagination draws from literary, cultural and psychic associations to fill the space beyond this sensory breakdown.