Reflection: The Shadowgram antithesis

After catching up on my last experiments with the shadowgram last week. I finally reached a state of being up to date in both BoW and CS for all the work I had carried out. So without having any outstanding works for once I posed myself a quick assessment and mini challenge.

The central idea of the shadowgram strategy is to return the abstract image back to its place of capture; therefore leaving an intervention on the ‘physical space’, while the standardised A4 paper print occupies the ‘image space’. David Campany writes about these spatial considerations saying when we see “What Sander called the “mosaic” of the photographic assembly is an expression of the mosaic nature of bodily and spatial experience.” (Campany, 2018).


Like Lee Ufan, I have in my abstracts sought to “…escape, or refute, 'Western' ideas of signification.” (Kee, 2008, p.405) because like many writers on the subject of representation, I believe photography is an inadequate medium to conclusively represent the totality. And so the ‘mosaic’ seen in the documentation above is of ‘a’ bodily and spatial experience in time. The space between the abstracts (the white wall) provide what is referred to in Japanese as Ma, which without a conclusive translation in English could be considered as a pause/gap/interval (Campany, 2018).

The desire I have is for the viewer to use this space between to imagine the abstractions expansion out of the image space and consider themselves how this experience may have come to pass; thus creating a dialogue. Campany describes this by saying “Ma recognises that this negative space may not be physically real, but it is psychically real, playing an active part in the observer’s understanding of themselves and what they observe. The greater the intensity of seeing, the more palpable this experience of ma, and this can be translated via the image for the viewer.” (Campany, 2018).

It is at this point that I see the mosaic, or formation, as a facilitator to consider the space between images, like in the narrative of the photo essay, to search for truth “ the interstices between pictures, in the movement from one picture to the next.” (Stimson, 2006, p.41), or more accurately, that the viewer decides their own truth.

At this point I feel a sense of resolution in terms of how I can theorise, execute and use the words of others to articulate what I have been exploring.

So as a brief bit of fun, I considered what might be the antithesis of what I have been doing. Instead of trying to return the abstract projection of light and shadow back to the point of origin in the physical space; I thought to document the abstraction, without ever retaining it. I took the A4 paper outside and positioned it in a favourable composition of light and shadow. But by only documenting the paper in the moment of composed abstraction, this is the only record of the abstract in the image space (the A4 paper). To all intensive purposes, the image does not physically exist.


In denying myself the execution of capture I have surrendered the image. This is reminiscent again of A Line Made by Walking (Long, 1967), which is a sculpture that only exists in its photographic documentation. Land art also sought to create ephemeral works in nature and surrender them to nature. And in doing so, reduce the role of photography down to a recording device of spatial and temporal experience.

This leaves me with a point of contemplation; which way is more interesting? The shadowgram is still my primary method but the antithesis might provide some healthy divergences in my notations.


Campany, D (2018) ‘Physical Space, Image Space, Psychical Space’ In: At: (Accessed on 04.12.18)

Stimson, B (2006) The Pivot of the World: Photography and its Nation, MIT Press: Cambridge.