The images of artist Seze Devres evoke photosynthesis. Converting light to energy offers an apt analogy for the artists’ use of the photogram. The preferred medium of early avant-garde artists like Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy, the photogram was well suited to exploring compositions of light and shadow. Yet Devres takes the medium beyond the mere formal interests of her predecessors to explore the catalytic possibilities of light and luminosity.
The conversion of light, from immaterial to material, is explored throughout Devres’ ouevre. In Luminous Bodies, from 1997, light reveals seemingly fragile human tissue, pulsating plasma and skeletal structures. Scientific gradations of lights are pursued in celestial bodies as well. Auroras and stars are thematic vehicles for riots of color, while works such as Phosphorescence and Fluorescence bathe in the light of their scientific namesake.
If the moon were a luminous body, its landscapes would appear as the Ketamine series. Glowing white particles appear suspended in black space, a rare appearance of light’s absence in the artists’ ouevre. A stylistic deviation in formal and aesthetic intent, the minutiae of these incandescent particles fill an ominous void in the artist’s more frequent opulent visual topography.
Light itself is, of course, a self referential black hole - for what is light but particles that together render other objects visible, or blind them from view. Devres harnesses this seeming mutual exclusivity most articulately in her recent work. Seaforms alludes to the depth and optic wonders of underwater tendrils flowing in the currents. Yet the large swaths of color give way to a more intricate lyrical composition in Fractures, a series in which the artist articulates light’s visual dichotomy most elegantly. The previous occupation with gradations of lights and bursts of color cede to a diligently executed tension between density and transparency. Their optical play locates the art between the sleekness of graphic design and optical hesitation between light’s ability to simultaneously reveal and conceal.
So is light the subject, or the medium? Devres doesn’t dwell on binary oppositions. Rather, she maximizes both subject and process to evoke a cerebral and aesthetic response. Consequently, everything is illuminated.
The most commonly used source of light for this purpose is the enlarger used in conventional negative printing, but any light source can be used, like, for example, the sun. The figure on the right shows how the image is formed. In the traditional darkroom setting, the paper is held in place using a printing frame. The objects to be used in making the image are placed on top of the paper. When a suitable composition has been found, the enlarger is used to expose the paper (tests will have to be done to check the exposure time and aperture required). Finally, the paper is processed, as normal, in print-developing chemicals, and washed and dried.