Under the curatorship of Walter Guadagnini, the two artists present new works that dialogue with one another. Mishka Henner is showing a series called “Turbines”, documenting and reinterpreting new features in the contemporary landscape, in this case wind farms. “Turbines” continues Henner’s theme of exploring how industry has shaped the American countryside. “Only from outer space”, he says, “can you truly appreciate the huge extent of these operations. We live in an age where, instead of sending probes to other planets, we have turned them onto Earth. The result gives us a special photographic‘take’ on our collective wishes and behaviour, and the consequences of them for the planet”. In this last series Henner focuses on wind farms in the United States. Sited according to prevailing wind patterns, these structures provide only 5% of all the electricity produced in the United States. Yet they need to cover extensive tracts of land and often end by infringing the local population’s territorial rights or impacting on the habitats of local birdlife and bats. “Despite all the problems and the outcry against wind farms”, Henner adds, “I personally feel the turbine and its propellor are a fine sight, a pinnacle of engineering design tapping an invisible yet constant resource. ”
Somewhat different is the cycle “The Persistent Gaze”. Here Davide Tranchina attempts to curb all eye movement: the obsessive repetition of the same frame causes the viewer to concentrate on the countless small changes to a subject, the horizon, which is continually evolving. The window becomes a device making us reflect on light and hence on the building blocks of photography. As Tranchina puts it,“Photography itself is a window onto reality. To immortalise a window is to reflect on photography”. Tranchina’s flanking series creates a kind of shuttle effect between reality and illusion: in his polaroid cycle “Apparent Horizons” the horizon we can or do perceive is actually a simulated horizon. The typical fixed horizon of Renaissance culture based on perspective in fact turns out to be an illusion: that of man’s control over the world. Today’s horizon vanishes, or rather turns into an unattainable horizon, shifting constantly.
The“Free Fall” of the title refers to our present-day optical angle: in the age of satellites and seeing machines it no longer has a line (or horizon) on which to rest. This removes our certainty about what can be seen and the very meaning of seeing and photography. Henner’s shots are worked up from other images and portray a different world from what the human eye sees; Tranchina’s stand as an open challenge to the credibility of photography, the nature itself of the photographic image. The dialogue that this sets up between the two artists is richly fascinating, not just for its philosophical implications, but for the aesthetic quality of the works on display. The upshot of Henner’s and Tranchina’s ruminations is something of great visual intensity, as befits images that can be claimed as works of art. The exhibition thus turns into a journey between true and false, sky and sea, horizons denied and horizons invented, as we probe the potential and limits of today’s photographic eye.