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How we evolved from lego

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

How We Evolved from Lego (HWEFL) is a single item comprising a series of images made by Richard Kolker between 2015 and 2020. The images explore the relationship of light, space and materiality as constructed by changing photographic practice. The series uses both computer generation and analogue techniques to study various organic and inorganic forms, sometimes drawing upon the canon of early and scientifically oriented photographic history. They include views of Everest formed using GIS data and rendered to resemble John Noel’s 1924 film Epic of Everest; cyanotypes of the sun and a primitive photosynthesizing organism; and a remodelling of suspended geometrical shapes after a 17th-century still life painting by Sanchez Cotan.
HWEFL considers how digital simulation in photography effectively unseats many of the former verities of the discipline, such as the heroic role of the photographer in
being in the right place at the right time. The images in the series aim to destabilize received ideas of representation in photography and play with definitions of the medium. Lego
is invoked in the title because its hard and perfect blocks influenced children’s perceptions of objects and how things might be constructed, while not forgetting that the Lego Movie (2014) used digital simulation of the toy for its animation.
Since digital capture is fundamentally different to analogue photography and images can be made to resemble the latter but without a real-world referent, then what is its significance for contemporary image-making? Kolker used 3D modelling and rendering to respond to this question, bringing objects into the studio for infrared or laser scanning, or fabricating them from basic geometric forms in digital space. Conventional photography, both analogue and digital, including the historic cyanotype process, was also utilised where appropriate. The series was reviewed by a feature article ‘the magazine Source: Thinking Through Photography’ in Spring 2019 and has been further disseminated through a series of artist talks both in the UK and Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages30-39
Issue number97
JournalSource: Thinking Through Photography
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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