temp. as in temptation, temperature, tempo, template, temporality
What does an image inherently disclose about its own path of coming into being upon a first (or second, third…) glance? In the case of temp., a duo exhibition that brings together the young oeuvres of Dries Segers and Matthias Yzebaert, surprisingly little. Both artists deploy an akin aesthetic language in their photographic renderings, as they present to us photographs that pretend to be images instead. Devoid of any narrative or contextual cues, this abstract imagery seems to rather allure (or confuse) the senses; abundantly sensuous in their play on color, shape, form and scale, these photographs set out to mystify the subject rather than expose it directly. It is this ‘subject’, however, that acts as the axis along which the two artistic practices diverge: whereas Yzebaert utilizes the camera to engage with his world (be it URL or IRL), Segers examines the photographic medium itself through a new lens, namely a camera-less one. Juxtaposing these different approaches (and the implications that come with), temp. exists in the tense realm of blurred lines and in-betweens: between an absent and a highly present apparatus; between digital and analog technology; between an immediate creation process and a more contemplative one; between the world and the studio, control and abandon, romanticism and theory. In the end, the artists gravitate towards each other once again as they opt for a screen-based presentation method, not only for its ability to capture the immaterial focus that underlies both bodies of work (‘light’ with Segers, the ‘virtual space’ with Yzebaert), but also to add one final side-note as to what photography is or, in this case, isn’t: simply a print (on the wall).
Dries Segers (b. 1990, Turnhout): “For this project, I didn’t want to create work by merely looking at things, but by actively engaging with matter, light… elements that are beyond my control. (…) The medium is able to create its own images, I’m there to find these.” Segers’ slightly surrealistic alchemies spring forth out of a medium-based exploration into the limitations (or possibilities) of photography, whereby a camera has been discharged. Instead, Segers ‘moulds light’ himself, by intentionally applying minor surface flaws (holes, cuts) to photographic film, and subsequently exposing it to a number of different light sources (and, thus, light temperatures). By engaging in the equally simple as complex process of directing light onto the celluloid in the darkroom, and by here-after presenting the result by means of a projector, Segers strips the medium to its bare (historical) essence: light. As such, these non-referential, self-contained photos show a topography of forms that seem fantastical but also have one foot in reality: they are particles of evidence from the inner world of the apparatus.
Matthias Yzebaert (b. 1983, Ghent) “Two things: I want to create work that means as little as possible, and I want to create work that is beautiful. (…) There are no narratives, no meaning; what you see is all there is.” Yzebaert’s fundamental concern is a certain aesthetic caress of life, whereby he trusts his camera’s ability, as well his own skills of digital modification, to foster a keener, more sensitive sort of seeing. Plumbing photography’s capacity for seduction, his formal, clean, almost painterly compositions raise questions about the obscure line between fine art and advertising, implicating the camera in economies of fetishization and desire. This belief, that objects and images do not have a distinct intrinsic hierarchy, lies at the heart of Society of Copy, an ongoing Tumblr that Yzebaert started in 2011. By appropriating isolated parts of beauty latent in everyday life and presenting it digitally, the photographic image becomes ‘one of many’ and ‘one (to be shared) by many’: it is a visual statement that refers to the current ‘copy culture’ and the breaking down of boundaries in our dealing with images on a daily basis. In order to retain the immateriality of the Tumblr-page, Yzebaert presents his images on a TV-set, as randomly pairing up diptychs: yet another way to subvert the pressing tyranny of meaning-making.