Project Details


In his 1966 film Blow Up, director Michelangelo Antonioni contrasts photographer Thomas's quest for truth in images with that of artist Bill whose abstract expressionist paintings bear more than a passing resemblance to the grain that frustrates Thomas's search for clarity. In the film, Thomas seems trapped in the world of appearances and the analogy escapes him. Antonioni's genius lies in his ability to suggest that the solace that Thomas seeks might be glimpsed in the very medium he is invested in, but in ways that he cannot see. Antonioni used the paintings of Ian Stephenson to make this point. I recently encountered some of Stephenson's paintings exhibited at Roche Court and took the opportunity to photograph them in black and white. In a reciprocal gesture I contact printed the resulting 6x9 negatives. With no enlargement or 'blow up', and robbed of their original colour, these paintings are returned to the resemblance of film grain that Antonioni found so useful. Presented here as simply Grain these images suggest both the metaphysical and sublime potential of photography's materiality as well as its inherent contradictions as a medium associated with truth.

Layperson's description

A photographic research project responding to Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blow up and in particular his use of Ian Stephenson's paintings in the film.
Effective start/end date10/04/1810/05/18


  • Blow up, abstract, painting, film, minimalism