John Hurrell – 16 July, 2010
The second variety of photograph, WHITENOISE, is coloured and much larger, showing jets of tumbling snow and chunks of ice being fired out of some unseen manmade nozzle up into the clear blue air, disintegrating and cascading down. Some of the four images of this variety look like spontaneously wobbly, spinning squalls that have appeared suddenly in the midst of some impeccably fine weather. They are humorously incongruous; a clever foil to the other works.
9 July - 7 August 2010
This downstairs Two Rooms exhibition presents three varieties of research into Antarctica, the ice-covered continent where Anne Noble spent time photographing over two residencies in 2002 and 2008.
First of all, half of the large gallery is taken up with the WHITEOUT series, twenty-six small, pale images on paper examining types of snow-based meteorological conditions. These nuanced climate variations dramatically affect the light on the landscape, sky and air - and subsequently, visibility. Many show horizon lines just over half-way up the photographic rectangle.
There is a delicate sense in these works of one looking on to the paper not through it. They look slightly bleached the way they are set into the sheet; a lack of contrast. Very pale greys dominate with these pictures of swirling snow, blurry balls of light and confusing ambiguities of distance. Because of the avoidance of dark tones, they lack dramatic wallop. That is obviously intended. They are contemplative in nature - about the evanescent.
Extending from this type is also a subgroup of aerial shots looking down over roadlike tyre tracks - made by machines in the snow - that become huge drawings. These, though distorted by perspective, are strikingly graphic and refreshingly unexpected after the atmospheric weather works. They seem focused on something more palpable and less repetitive - being presented on the tail end of the series.
The second variety of photograph, WHITENOISE, is coloured and much larger, showing jets of tumbling snow and chunks of ice being fired out of some unseen manmade nozzle up into the clear blue air, disintegrating and cascading down. Some of the four images of this variety look like spontaneously wobbly, spinning squalls that have appeared suddenly in the midst of some impeccably fine weather - turbulent mini-storms erupting from nowhere onto patches of hitherto pristine ground. They are humorously incongruous; a clever foil to the other works.
On the streetside Two Rooms wall Noble displays her third type of investigation, language works consisting of lists of two-word phrases involving ‘white’. These she has picked from literature about the southern polar continent and human interaction with it. A pale grey seriffed font is used over white.
I find these lists a bit ordinary, but a large WHITENOISE book she has prepared displaying such lists and footnotes of origins also includes longer phrases placed on single pages. These fragments of clauses are quite wonderful, for me the best thing in the show because of their qualities of evocation. Three examples are ‘white peaks of glistening whipped cream’ (from a book on Shackleton), ‘Oates is a white hummock now’ (from an anthology about ice and the English imagination), and ‘white bonnets sparkling in the sun’ (from a tome on Antarctic writing).
In this show it is the tyre-track photos, two or three of the light on the horizon, and some of the printed verbal phrases I find breathtaking. Otherwise, a little so so.
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