‘In order to become memorials […] what matters is the fact that something artificial take place, some act that will mark the space. This making artificial is possibly the simplest form of what a monument is.’ Darian Leader, The New Black
LIGHTS ON, RADIO ON
In 2009, as Dominic drove through Dallas, recurrent road-side church signs stood illuminated against the darkness. The artificial light representing the sacredness of the adjacent building thoughout the night. Saliency relies on where light comes from and how much of it comes from there. It is also determined by difference and so, an unconscious fixation is prompted by something new. Dominic had visited Texas on occasion, during which the signs’ emanating forms were as alien as their surroundings. ‘Shrine’ traces a familiarisation between the photographer and his environment. It is a testament to how we scale our world, the revelation of objects and how we alter their value after encounter.
The first encounter is the beginning of intimacy. If perception is relative to the body, we measure the world using ourselves. To pursue an expanse it’s natural to straighten your arm vertically. An object feels closer when you have a tool to reach with; of course it will appear closer with a camera or a car. Online you can use the tools without having to be present. Dominic began making detailed maps of the area, then, searched street-view for similar signs, ensuring each had space for equipment and that the position between the camera, light and black backdrop was invariable.
LIGHTS OFF, RADIO ON
In 2012, Dominic returned to find some church signs were turned off as a gesture of care for the environment. As the sun dissipated into the horizon, the American south-west heat remained. Despite being indistinct, the church signs stood salient, still. Light stays in the location of revelation as a trace. This time, the church signs made themselves distinct by familiarity. Familiar objects passed on uncovered routes, travelled previously, online. The encounter with the church sign, each as a landmark valuable in the unfamiliar environment, was uncanny.
As a sign is representative in its nature, the real church signs become mere replicas. Finally, with permission to turn specific light-boxes back on, the images were captured in the ten minutes of last light, in the ambience of twilight, in an attempt to juxtapose the real with the artificial, while transforming the value of the everyday sign and object. Shot using a panoramic mount system, Dominic physically promotes the monument to the monumental.
Text by Liza Premiyak
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DOMINIC HAWGOOD, 2016