An exhibition of new and existing work by Dan Holdsworth at Graves Gallery in Sheffield will present what the photography-based artist describes as a form of ‘future archaeology’. To (semi) demystify; this translates into an innovative use of GPS technology and sophisticated digital mapping software, which Holdsworth has developed in an attempt to capture the geological context out of which some of the world’s most remarkable landscapes have formed (and through which they will eventually degrade).
We particularly see this in Continuous Topography (2016); a remarkable reimaging of the Mont Blanc Massif glaciers in France, which Holdsworth captured over a period of extensive fieldwork in collaboration with a research geologist. Through hundreds of photographs, ‘the White Mountain’ stands before the viewer in sublime detail, tapping into our instinctive sense of awe in relation to the vastness of such landscapes.
To use the world ‘sublime’ is not quite as inappropriately hyperbolic as it may at first sound; Holdsworth’s work being to some degree shaped by his interest in the art critic John Ruskin’s writing on the subject. Ruskin was a significant patron of the arts in Sheffield, establishing a museum ‘for working men’ in 1875 (the collection of which is now housed at the nearby Millennium Gallery), making the rural city a seemingly ideal location for the Continuous Topography series UK debut.
Overall, however, Mapping the Limits of Space looks likely to not only provide a striking encounter with the timeless beauty of nature up close. But also a timely reflection on the changing impact of technology on human perception in relation to our surroundings, as Holdsworth’s unique photographic process reveals a transient quality to one of nature’s most seemingly permanent of structures.