EUQINOM Gallery is pleased to present on the probability of darkness, an exhibition of new work by scott b. davis. This is Davis’s second exhibition with the gallery and includes pictures made in the past two years throughout the desert landscapes of Mexico, Arizona and California. This expands upon Davis’s poetic investigations of the western landscape while further pushing the images towards abstraction. Working in the spirit of William Henry Fox Talbot and Sir John Herschel, the photographs are made using time-consuming, 19th century formulas including platinum/palladium printing, abandoning the precision and control often expected from photography and making new visual discoveries along the way. The resulting images explore the boundaries of visibility in the darkness and overwhelming light of the Sonoran desert, creating pictures of landscapes that are both literal and abstract. The exhibition will include Davis’s largest piece to date, comprised of ten photographs taken along the U.S./Mexico border.
the expansiveness of this space has a lot to do with photography. when the sun goes down the world becomes reduced to a series of shapes and tones. looking east across a valley and into the shadow of the planet i see a few shades - earth, sky and subtle contrasts between trees, cactus and sand. ridgelines offer exactly two tones - and a singular definition of the landscape, one which offers no story, no detail, and an inky darkness that engages the imagination. - scott b. davis
Davis has been exploring the platinum/palladium printing process for the past twenty years, creating prints rich in contrast to push the boundaries of the visible spectrum and the perceptual limits of human vision. His prints invite closer, deeper looking at landscapes that seem familiar to us in the daylight but evolve into something altogether different when rendered as abstract records of place. Opposing elements are inherent: in the contrast between what looks like daylight and deep darkness, the black tones of the film-based platinum/palladium prints against the blinding white tones of the in-camera palladium paper negatives, and the artist’s choice to create diptychs of these opposing forces, often reversing and inverting negatives or subverting the viewer’s perceptual experience by shifting horizons to create fictions from unrelated landscapes. The abstract qualities that result create a sense of mystery, expanding Davis’s body of work toward an increasingly abstract rendering of the land. He points out that the limitations of the platinum/palladium process have pushed him beyond its ability to objectively record, to seeing its immense possibilities as a light sensitive medium. The aim is not to represent the desert as we think we know it, but to evoke an intimate connection with the desert through new perspectives.
Davis’s photographs invite viewers to slow down and partake in looking deeply into the darkness. In contrast to our fast-paced digestion of digital images, the pictures in on the probability of darkness reward viewers who take time to appreciate the sense of design in the landscape. The discovery of the unknown is a journey for the artist as well as for the viewer.