“As a medium reliant on how the natural world appears to it, can a photograph ever be truly abstract? Yet what process is more abstract than collapsing mass, depth and time into a single surface?” – Harvey-Regan
In geology an ‘erratic’ refers to a rock that differs from its native environment, having been carried and deposited there by a long-vanished glacier. Similarly Darren Harvey-Regan in his latest series executes both the photographic and physical act of lifting something out of its context, playing on overlapping appearances and processes.
The Erratics (Exposures) presents images of natural rock formations eroded by wind and sand. Using an old large format field camera, Harvey-Regan sought out the monolithic chalk forms of Egypt’s Western Desert, a vast natural parallel to the singular studio-bound objects that frequently recur in his practice.
The Erratics (Wrest) are photographs of sculptural compositions made by the artist from chalk collected from the rock falls along England's South Coast. By carving smooth planes and shapes into rough rocks, Harvey-Regan shapes the chalk towards the two-dimensional experience of a photographic print, working with and against its natural forms.
Harvey-Regan uses art historian Wilhelm Worringer's essay Abstraction and Empathy as both a background for the work and as a means to consider the nature of the photographic medium. For Worringer, ‘empathy’ describes our need to connect to the visible world, identifying with it and representing it. Conversely, ‘abstraction’ is proposed as a means of coping with the overwhelming phenomena of the world by extracting things from their place in space and time whilst distilling them to purified line, form and colour.
Both abstraction and empathy are captured in these works and their photographic process. The forms exposed in their natural surroundings in Erratics (Exposures) remain curiously abstract while tending more towards empathy, while forcefully sculpted objects in Erratics (Wrest) are balanced on the edge of the organic and abstract.