Snap happy. New photography at greenroom.

Matthew Hull

Matthew Hull examines a series of strange, manipulated images on display in an exhibition at Manchester’s greenroom

Digital cameras, for all their user friendliness, have killed off a singular photographic joy – the happy accident. Those unique images created when the shutter speed or aperture was set incorrectly; the group snapshot that came back from the developers with everyone emitting a ghostly glow, or the holiday photo where the beach at sunset looked like the surface of an alien planet. In Angle of Refraction, now on at greenroom, photographers Mark Devereux and Gareth Hacking have deliberately manipulated these camera settings to create their own abstract and visually appealing happy accidents.

Devereux says his work aims to ‘examine the boundary between painting and photography and also to express one of my main areas of inspiration, cosmology.’ With their blotches and wisps of light, the artist’s pictures evoke, on one hand, the art of Jackson Pollock and, on the other, the images beamed back by the Hubble space telescope. Hacking’s work is equally appealing: overexposed streams of neon conjure busy street scenes and vintage arcade games.

‘In the end, it is the viewer’s role to interpret the pieces,’ says Devereux. ‘Gareth and I have noticed that different people see a range of different things in the pictures – faces or shapes, things we couldn’t possibly have intended when we took the photographs.’

Organised by Blank Media Collective, the exhibition is an early taste of what will be a two-year residency for the group at greenroom beginning in September. ‘It’s the continuation of a relationship between the artists’ collective and greenroom,’ says John Franklin, the venue’s programme co-ordinator. ‘We are committed to nurturing performance talent and are excited about providing a space for BMC to curate and display emerging visual art.’

A visit to this exhibition could have interesting effects on your own photography. After taking in the works at Angle of Refraction, don’t be surprised if your finger hesitates over the ‘delete’ button the next time you take a blurry or misjudged snapshot.

Angle of Refraction, greenroom, until Sep 4, (open Wed-Sat 10am-6pm). Free. Images (top to bottom): 36ACT[1].jpg–  © Mark Devereux, 2010; Kampfende Stucke.jpg– © Gareth Hacking, 2005.

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