For the past thirty-five years Garry Fabian Miller has worked without a camera, making images entirely in the darkroom and using the techniques of early nineteenth century photographic exploration to experiment with the possibilities of light, as both medium and subject.
Since the mid 1980s Miller has patiently developed methods of passing light through coloured glass and liquid onto photographic paper, often using long exposures lasting anywhere between one and twenty hours to create his unique and luminous images. These techniques have earned Miller a deserved reputation as one of the most progressive artists working with photography today, a status marked by the Victoria & Albert Museum's support of his work over the past 30 years. This support found physical form in Shadow Catchers, the landmark 2010 exhibition devoted to camera-less photography, and continues in the museum's commitment to documenting the working practice of Miller's darkroom as a unique site of artistic production. The results of this—almost anthropological—engagement will be made visible in phase 2 of the V&A's new Photography Centre, planned to open in the spring of 2022, and proceeds in tandem with the museum's long term ambition to house the artist's archive.
The photographs that will be shown at Ingleby this Autumn are characteristically virtuosic meditations on colour and form but they also mark the end of an era as the artist battles with the extinction of the analogue materials in a digital age. Dwindling supplies of paper and chemistry and the increasingly fugitive nature of his life-learnt methods see Miller embracing the perversity of his position in a final blaze of picture-making glory.
A new book, titled BLAZE, will be published to coincide with this latest body of work. The artist and writer Edmund de Waal introduces the new publication and comments:
Blaze is the word for manifesto-words and ideas to start a fire with. Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. Malevich's writings. Kandinsky on colour. I think of the blaze of 'Die Fackel', the Torch, a blaze of red to set light to Vienna in the early part of the last century. Blaze is anger. And tenderness. And loyalty too: those emotions that are tinder-dry, unpredictable, unsearched-for and costly. The latest body of work by Garry Fabian Miller blazes.
Garry Fabian Miller will give the annual lecture of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography on Friday 15th November at the National Galleries of Scotland.
Press release courtesy Ingleby Gallery.