Wolfgang Tillmans // Luminogram Abstraction

In a book called "Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus: Modern Photography Explained", I came across some of German fine art photographer, Wolfgang Tillman's abstract experiments. Tillman's abstract works such as Freischwimmer, Blushes and Mental pictures, all demonstrate his experiments between painting and photography using luminogram methods in a darkroom. 

Luminograms are the exposing of light sensitive materials such as photographic paper, to light emitting tools such as torches. As you can see in Tillman's experiments he has used a mixture of light emitting sources such as fibre optic brushes and different coloured chemicals, to create these vivid almost water colour like effects onto large pieces of photographic paper. 

Freischwimmer #26
Above is one of my favourite abstractions of Tillmans, which is part of his Freischwimmer series. I like this particular image so much because I find it incredibly emotive considering the exact subject matter of the luminogram. To me this movement, which reminds me very much of water, and water colour paint creates this very powerful feeling of hopelessness and sinking mentally, with this movement that we can see down the image. Which for me personally as a viewer evokes feelings of when I have felt lost, and down in my life, and not felt like I can get up again. Which really makes me connect to this image, which I find strange considering it is a simple abstraction. I think the use of this pink red, which reminds me of blood is also interesting, and creates this very clinical aesthetic which reminds me of visuals from films such as Antiviral, where lots of white negative space is used like in this image, to focus in on this very cold and raw subject matter. I find it so interesting that such as effect can be created with simple movement of light over an image, and it has made me think a lot more about how I can use elements such as movement and negative space in my own imagery. 

Tillman's use of simple light and chemicals, on photographic paper to create these effects, really challenges the concept of painting in art and what we can define as image making. To me these experiments are so clever and intriguing, especially considering the amount of emotion and feeling they convey through simple colours and movement. I've also been inspired by the use of large pieces of photographic paper which his work is displayed and created on, which makes the observing of his work really interesting as instead of the viewer peering into his work, it peers over us which creates more of an introspective response to his work which I think is perfect considering the subject matter, and I would love to experiment with this kind of scale in my own future works. 

Looking at Tillman's abstractions, has inspired me to look at movement even further in photography and how I can apply these ideas of expression and emotion into my own work.


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