Abstraction Devices – photography beyond reality
Photographs and texts: Luca Baldini
Introduction: Luca Baldini and Mario Fracasso
Reality is not often what we imagine; sometimes it is not even what we perceive with our senses. Karl Raimund Popper, Austrian epistemologist who died in 1994, talking about Kantian philosophy in his work Conjectures and Refutations, explained that we should overcome the idea of a passive humanity lashed out by Nature forces. We should accept that the perception of phenomena has to be ordered and ruled by us, according to our cultural background. Starting from this idea, we present you with a photographic gallery which is real as well as subjective. The author, Luca Baldini, has disjointed the elements in order to recompose them following the reality he envisioned. Many philosophers define some of our certainties on external reality under the expression Naive Realism, and they consider that these beliefs that we take for granted obstruct our knowledge process. Luca Baldini has attempted to go beyond: he gave new meaning to certain places in Italy, resetting landscape elements in order to express some opinions or ideas he had. After all, Einstein himself was close to Kant’s theories when he said: «all concepts, even those which are closest to experience, are from the point of view of logic freely chosen conventions. Luca Baldini chose his own ones and showed, while describing his homeland, that even photography can help thinking. ©Mario Fracasso
By adding an abstract cut to my compositions, I try to widen their communicative potential, to the point that they can represent something that is not pictured. Titles are thus very important, as these ideas don’t exist without the verbal component, being it solitary thinking or a solid conversation among observers. Multiple exposure, directly applied on the film, creates images which are more complex but still compact and intact in their correspondence to a mental reality, not overblown: the analog process preserves the indexical relationship between photo and existent, the combined presence of different points of view draws the composition closer to the world of ideas.
Fate/Path – Bologna
An open debate on life. Or better, a point of view on life. Fate makes assonance with faith and path rhymes with maths. Thanks to mathematical algorithms we can calculate the displacements of railway binaries, so that we can follow the right way to a desired destination. Anyway, this isn’t enough, because life has an “airy” component too, elusive and immortal, that can show itself in the unforeseen: this is represented here by the railway electric traction system, whose registration arms remind me of the puppet master’s arms, ruling from above. What’s more important, then, the path we choose or fate’s support? What’s the most effective tool we’re given, our will or our faith? I believe this picture gives us one sure answer: we can’t see farther than that bridge, it’s all blurred. Let’s just enjoy the journey.
20th Century – Italia
These ten exposures over the same film frame, shot in different places around Italy, are kind of a brainstorming on the last century. A diachronic representation, like a blast of memories in rapid fire imprinted on a mental snapshot. Main protagonist is the anthropization process of the existent: starting from a thatched roof with wooden beams and ending at cars and power stations.
Development In Architecture – Milano Marittima
Development In Architecture is a partial double exposure. The film portion interested by the union of the two shots measures 70×24 mm, but only on the central third the overlay happened: before rolling over my Fujica and shooting the second image, I rewound the film by half frame, instead of one. This resulted in an image that reminds me of a two-dimensional development of a three-dimensional half-sphere, thus a geometric shape. Here links my remark on contemporary architecture, whose development principles lay on notions of shape and design rather than substance and function. Subject of the photo: abandoned night club nearby Ravenna.
Do Not Feed The Trees – Roma
“Do not feed the animals” is a typical line one can find written inside zoos, especially if referred to protected animal species. Instead, here we are in the beautiful park of Villa Torlonia in Rome. The fence and the security cameras deal with the idea of protection. There’s a museum behind the objective, but I addressed it to the park, which is here a metaphor of Nature that becomes, in a metropolitan civilization, the negative of the built; no more free to manifest itself in its variations. In vast areas of many cities, green is an endangered colour, dying out, boxed up in cages that we call flower-beds. So, Nature, as something to preserve from the march of the concrete. Nature as an element getting scarce, to protect but also to observe and admire.
Still Life With Skyscraper – Frosinone
This is a composition of built objects, a urban landscape sadly typical of Italian suburban areas, characterized by the absence of attention towards the choice of materials, constructive technologies, social, spacial and visual solutions that made the luck, throughout the centuries, of our beautiful and harmonious city centers. The skyscraper emerges, blank, between the other buildings. No matters how many windows or balconies – two or two hundreds – our suburbs are going to remain lifeless.
Fortress Europe – Bologna
The historical center of Bologna (Italy) is protected with security and traffic cameras, all around and inside it. In this image you can see combined the technique of analog photography with contemporary “big brother” techniques and, blurred and distant, the 1000 years old Asinelli tower and the rich buildings of via Rizzoli. Comes to my mind the analogy with Europe: an economic fortress being built up not to let intruders from less developed countries in – the Euro currency as a silent weapon. Join the banks’ way or keep out!
Propeller Mast Dye – Cervia
Province of Ravenna, shipyard in the marina of Cervia, double exposure. This photo is illustrative of why my titles are usually thought in English: English is more flexible and indefinite than Italian; I would say it’s a potentially abstract language, since there isn’t always a one-to-one correspondence between signifier and meaning. For example, mast means (in Italian) “albero maestro”, but the pronunciation is almost the same as must (“dovere”), which can refer to different persons and tenses of the same verb. While dye means “tintura” or the verb “tingere” and is pronounced exactly like the verb to die (“morire”). The three words that make the title, thus, schematically describe the composition, but can also mislead to a tricky reading. The composition is tricky too: the worker is dying the mast and dyes himself with the colours of the boat’s hull, same boat he’s working on. The self-addressed operation reminds me of a mental introspection or one of those unconscious post-traumatic processes of memory correction or suppression.
Equalization – Ravenna
While taking this long exposure shot in the natural park Oasi di Punte Alberete, I slowly turned the focus from 2 m to infinite. In this way I put on focus all the visible landscape, from the canes to the trees and the streetlights far away. Everything on focus but nothing neatly in detail. An equalization is the compensation of a phenomenon, but also recalls the idea of equality. In this composition all the elements are flattened on the same plane and acquire the same importance, from the big to the small one, from the natural to the artificial.
Open\Closed – Ravenna
Ravenna has a port canal dig in the sand, ending into the Adriatic sea. In order to ensure its accessibility to large draught ships, the excavation is protected from the water currents by two seawalls 2,8 km long. Two very long motionless piers creating like a huge vestibule. The photo is taken right where the canal opens into the vestibule, much alike a limbo that with the sunset’s colours gets an aura of mystery, at the edge of closure and infinite horizontality. Open\Closed is a reflection on the relativity of the horizon and on the lability of limits. For me It’s peace. For me it’s motion.
Nightmare Of A Tree At The Edge Of Town – Ravenna
This photo is a double exposure, shot in the Natural Oasis of Punte Alberete, a natural park whose richness in flora and fauna is threatened by the march of urbanization and, most of all, by the toxic smoke from the chemical-industrial plant. In the picture one can see a tree and a dreamlike shape of the same tree cut down.
Fairy Tale Gone To Bed – Bologna
Walking back home at night, I once came across this vision of the stairwell that takes to Parco Della Montagnola, a little mystic, like populated by a procession of street-lights in tension between quietness and motion. Between reality and fiction, as characters of a fairy tale. So I tried to create a picture that could suggest many possible plots but nothing precisely, quite like fairy tales, which don’t necessarily end with an explicit moral (unlike the fables). Also the title is open to interpretation: one can think of a bedtime story or of a love affair just ended up, for the night or forever. What remains is nothing but a stage.