Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey opens as a visual vade mecum at Galerie Miranda, a handbook that guides us through photography’s nearly two centuries’ arc of light, photogram, colour and Polaroid as seen in her practices, Photography Degree Zero and Struck by Light. For the 21st century, for Paris, the ‘City of Light’, Ellen Carey brings her arc into the future with Crush & Pull with Rollbacks & Penlights, a completely new 21st century photo-object from Polaroid’s monumental negative, which allows Carey, its ‘camera operator’, to reposition 'light drawing' anew. It highlights Polaroid and its huge 20 X 24 camera as one of the medium’s 20th century game changers.
Carey visually consults Talbot, Daguerre, and Anna Atkins, the tripod of 19th century game changers: Talbot’s negative-to-positive duality of the photogram-as-image is doubled while Daguerre is mirrored in the glossy polish of Polaroid’s pristine surface and crisp picture; Talbot’s soft-focus, non-colour compositions in blurry outlines sees light’s ‘shadow’ while Prussian blue sees colour-as-light transformed by Anna Atkins’ cyanotype images. They used light and light-sensitive processes to create their images — all unique pictures, all-in-one totalities originating visual impact for which the gestalt is c’est! (‘it is!’ cf. Barthes in Writing degree zero). The ‘Black Swan’ theory sees unexpected events become game changers in this, the global world, today. Carey’s performance in the ‘black box’ of the darkroom — folding, crushing, creasing, and nothing seen until it is finished — abounds with affinities to the Surrealist drawing game of the “exquisite corpse”.
When light becomes visible the object speaks. Ellen Carey’s object says craquelure, parabola, hue, abstract, process, minimal, Polaroid, photogram, black swans, light, beauty, colour, wonder, invention, innovation. It says, Crush & Pull with Rollbacks & Penlights.