Free Associations, the Ontological Desire of Photography

From operator to spectator; ‘incidents of mirror travel’ at the Cape through Metallurgy, a photographic series by Caroline Mackintosh.

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

 

As Stephen King says; “everything is eventual.” So is the effect of Caroline Mackintosh’s disarrangement bubbling to the surface of her series Metallurgy, which compounds and magnifies reality’s existential qualities like a child pointing at something. It is with a sweet aloofness Mackintosh approaches her found aesthetic: “They’re portals to an alternative you, something familiar and unfamiliar which makes it magic.”

It was while walking amidst tufted Cape fynbos Caroline Mackintosh caught in the mirrors she was carting with her a weightless, transparent envelope, carrying a temporal message from the 1970s. Mackintosh paused and photographed her mirrors displacing the atavistic Cape landscape, before moving on. More than a year later, the serendipitous meeting of my interests with this work shed light on a rather picturesque landscape in the Human psyche.

Mackintosh and I were enjoying a night imbibing when we were turned away from an African film festival party at The Mayan, a club in Los Angeles. This is a very “Look,” “See,” “Here it is”; moment for what Mackintosh’s photographs are pointing at in Metallurgy– the mirror stage in our collective unconscious. The affected displays of light in these South African photographs are a kind of Jacques Lacan Tuché [i.e the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic] to Robert Smithson’s land art project Mirror Travel in the Yucatan, which, to my bliss, Mackintosh had no previous contact with.

 

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Caroline’s ‘lack’ of contact produces the essence of my interest here. If we are collectively drained by an ancestral watershed of memory, then, as spectators, we peer into a river at ourselves. Our reflection sharpens as we recall Robert Smithson; setting the cornerstone of his land art on a two volume work by 19th c. American explorer; John Lloyd Stephens titled: Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. Desirous then of our specular image our imagination irrupts as Kader Attia’s Holy Land  is carried by. The sampling of our collective unconscious stops there, for now. Smithson was well aware of Stephens… The morsel’s sweetness lingers, however, when we pair Stephen’s writing with Interconnectedness, an idea given us by his contemporary: naturalist thinker and explorer Alexander Von Humboldt, coiner of the word ‘Cosmos.’ Carl Jung’s discourse on the collective unconscious inserts itself here imploring the looker; visualise laying a diagonal stroke from The Mayan in Los Angeles directly through Copán and; in the words of Uvedale Price; “without appearance of constraint,” onward to the Cape of Good Hope. This bold diagonal line seen as part of a whole, is a laconism of Jung’s genius.

 

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

© Caroline Mackintosh. Metallurgy, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Caroline Mackintosh is a Cape Town based South African emerging photographer. Her images have been featured by Le Petit Voyeur, Marie Claire, Vice, Oyster and Junk Magazines.

Written by Kyle Tregurtha

Cape Town | Doing our part to combat immappancy 

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