“The work Time after Time and Again deconstructs photography into its components and reassembles them on one surface that encompasses the essence of the photographic act, the fundamentals of color photography, and the marvel that combines light and time into a photograph. At the same time, in a kind of an aside, Shaham also subverts the concept of freezing the moment which religiously accompanies photography and differentiates it from cinema. In a simple but not innocent still photograph, Shaham records movement on a timeline: a landscape depicting a kind of a sundial while simultaneously recording it as it becomes a photograph. In three exposures timed over one hour, in which three filters using the RGB color model, three colored projections were made, marking the location of the stick’s shadow through the sun’s movement over one hour.
Unlike 19th-century early photographs—where the limits of the photographic material’s sensitivity necessitated long exposure to light, making the details that had moved during the exposure into a pale blur or a dark color patch in the photographs—in Shaham’s photographs the movement is recorded with three clear, sharp projections whose location marks the exact time in which each of the color filters was used. The sundial on the sand demonstrates, through a single photograph within one hour, the process that the medium underwent in 170 years, and clearly and succinctly formulates the conceptual differences between continuous and fragmented movement; it is also the conceptual distance between photography and cinema and the gap between the analogue and digital worlds. This is a decisive phase in the evolution of man and machine and in the history of science and ideas, in the technological revolution of knowledge-rich industries, which is, of course, a social and cultural revolution.”
excerpt of the article Assaf Shaham: New Ways to Steal Old Souls, by Nili Goren, as in the Shpilman Institute for Photography. Continue reading here
“Regarding The Emperor’s New Clothes
Imagine two scanners facing one another as they perform the only function they are capable of performing: scanning. They embark on an intense seductive mating ritual. One head moves up, the other one down, they both go down and simultaneously go back up again; In movement, whether in or out of synchronization, they exchange fluids and perform a discursive sexual act.
Susan Sontag claimed that photography is “not such a successful form of intercourse” 1 because the camera maintains a distance between that which is penetrating and that which is being penetrated. Assaf Shaham’s scanners will never feel each other. There will forever be that distance between them, rendering actual contact impossible. The resulting works of this sterile intercourse are yet surprisingly fertile. Flat, mechanical and technological to the extreme, these color fields are exemplary sons of a formalistic dynasty: they are Mondrian’s grandchildren, Rothko’s nephews and Walead Beshty’s adopted children. The yellowish light of the projecting bulb used in the darkroom is here replaced with the bright white light of the scanning device and random strips of lights, the sharp and accurate inkjet prints are favored over chemical photo paper and the ready-made was chosen over the artist’s darkroom.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
Shaham’s work is concerned with the very space between the king’s death and the beginning of his successor’s reign, precisly in the gap between the comma and it’s following letter it happens after photography has been repeatedly murdered; after it died, was re-born, fell down, rotted from within, was salvaged and brought back up on its feet again.
What appears like a large-scale replica of an Ilford photo paper pack leans against a wall, basking in a realistic glory of sorts. It is a marvelous reproduction of the original with a three dimensional appearance that was only altered as the original motif was replaced by the artist: where a harmless consensual image once appeared, Shaham has implanted a photographic rape scene.
In a small piece, dark silhouettes are burnt within a split of a second. It is a black footnote at the endpoint of a prolonged history of power and violence. American radiation in Hiroshima scorched out an eternal memory in real time. The gesture of the original photographer of this image – equally created by the bomb – is reactivated here by Shaham. That photographer is dead, long live the new photographer.”
TEXT BY YAIR BARAK.