Paul Kenny’s Camera-less Photography


Kenny has spent many years developing a unique, camera-less photographic practice that is rooted in his concern for the environment, and in his love for both the British coastline and innovative photography. He has travelled to Japan, France and Ireland but his work has gained the most momentum by taking the remote beaches of Wester Ross in north-west Scotland and the Western fringes of the outlying islands as subject matter.

Kenny renders down scraps of flotsam and jetsam that he collects from the strand-line into regular squares and rectangles, which evoke looking through a window or at the creased contours on an unfolded map. Kenny’s, process of photographing is unlike other image makers: “I’ve always thought of photography as a two-stage process. You make a negative or you capture an image in some way and then you make a print and that’s a second stage. And I think what I’ve done in my work is I’ve completely eliminated photography from the first stage and I actually make what is in effect a still life. My arrangements that happen to be on a glass plate using bits of old fishing line and rust, but that’s kind of this first stage of the process, and then there’s this photography process that comes in to capture the image.”

Kenny is interested in the tension of man-made objects that have been battered by nature, and he tries to exploit this to make the viewer consider man’s position in the universe. As Kenny says about his square works, “I started to make these sort of rectangles and squares in the work that were somehow indicative of man’s effect on the landscape. There’s an idea about the fragility of the landscape and man scratching at the edges of it… I want my pictures to be deep, thought provoking, to be beautiful”

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