Juliette Alhmah

“Modern Ghosts”

Even if a photograph bears witness to what is no longer and will never return, it can also disappear itself. This erasure, considered as an error, can also be valued by artistic intention and get as a virtue that would paradoxically strengthened the image. This research brings together an aesthetic and phenomenological analysis with a technical research on the primitive process of salt paper discovered by William Henry Fox Talbot. In this research, death and loss are considered as the origin of any image in order to keep a trace. Next, the loss of sight and the, a way to access the images, was explored. This results in the valorization of the photographic object, that is, of the materiality of the image, in particular through the process of the imprint. Then, the disappearance of the image itself (and/or its support) was questioned : precarious techniques, deliberately fragile research, erasure as an artistic thought…The idea is about acceptance of the ephemeral. In fine, the ephemeral image offers various readings. It could mean a visual relief from the incessant excitement of glances because of the abundance of virtual images. It could also be a deprivation as to create the frustration of the desire to see. An image that fades away because of too much light, and therefore because of the way one looks at it, could be an image that would not stand to be observed. Above all, the ephemeral image reflects the fragility of everything in homage to the cycle of life. Even more, the passing photographic portrait bears witness to the ephemeral nature of a being. The contemplation of such an image seems to express the loneliness of each one facing the loss. This is ultimately the acceptance of the end. According to Georges Didi-Huberman : « It would be necessary for the images to really touch us, that they are no longer this shooting pharmacy that the deceptively beauty promises. We should (…) look at them as we would look at a swarm of flies approaching us : a visual buzzing around our own vocation to decompose. » __ [Georges Didi-Huberman, Ce que nous voyons, ce qui nous regarde, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1992, p 30. — en français : « Il faudrait pour que les images nous touchent vraiment, qu’elles ne soient plus cette pharmacie apaisante que la beauté trompeusement promet. Il faudrait (…) que nous les regardions comme nous regarderions un essaim de mouches s’approcher de nous : un bourdonnement visuel autour de notre propre vocation à nous décomposer. »] The “Modern Ghosts” project is part of this research and is based on the phenomenon of “ghosting”, which refers to the fact of not announcing the rupture but simply disappearing from social networks and all virtual communication. These are salted paper prints that fade with the light: an imaginary post-breakup time where the image of the other fades away. Ideally, this visual project is accompanied by text or sound: messages left in the void after a break-up.

© Juliette Alhmah