Everyday cutlery series project

In the visual world I created, I used perspective and lighting to encourage abstraction and enhance the experience of the view.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

I have chosen to visualise the unique design of the most basic cutlery unfolding in minimalist lighting. I chose to show cutlery because it is part of our everyday utility, so to take it out of its everydayness was a real challenge for me. I aimed to create a visual world that would visually place these commonplace and therefore less interesting utensils in a new context.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

As a photographer, my basic motto is that images are made complete by our imagination, which is why I chose to use low-light settings to allow the viewer’s imagination to run wild. Throughout, I have followed a guiding principle of using as few props as possible, while trying to use the cutlery in its pure physical manifestation.

In this series, abstract photography is realized as an abstraction: the cutlery is physically present in the composition, but the visual message of the images is modified and enriched with additional meaning.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

Making the images helped me to gain a more visually creative perspective and helped me to move away from the functional constraints of the forms in question. This is perhaps the biggest personal breakthrough for me that I have had in photography.

I have been very influenced by the work of many of the masters I have met in my studies of the history of photography. Most prominent among them is the Hungarian-born photographer André Kertész, whose 1928 photograpy called Fork inspired my series. What Henri Cartier-Bresson said in 1962 is also true for me:
“We are all in debt to Kertész”.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

A further important source of inspiration for the creation of the series is the literature I have drawn from my studies of the history of photography, from various photographic styles such as surrealism, avant-garde photography, lyrical photography, ‘straight photography’ or modernist photography and abstract photography.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

Man Ray’s abstract photography proves that, even at the dawn of photography, there was room for individuality and a unique vision, which emphasises the visual artistic experience over the documentary tradition of the genre. What I will always remember about his Rayogram is not only its colours, but also its unique creativity, which he did not use a camera to create, but instead placed objects on light-sensitive material, which – when illuminated – created a unique and atmospheric visual world.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

André Kertész’s photographic quest impressed me because of the highly expressive way he captures his photographic subjects, which was ahead of his time and inspired generations to come. The ‘Fork’ composition, for example, shows the traits of the new objectivity through its objective, figurative representation. His images exude a noble simplicity, yet are enriched with a new meaning that goes beyond the visual. To me, André Kertész’s images express not only his talent as a photographer, but also his great visual thinking, which imposed his individuality, his way of thinking and his vision of the world on every photograph. His images are not just visual impressions, his masterly compositions have shaped generations of thinking about photography. His Iconic ‘Fork’ was a key inspiration for the series.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

For me, the purely visual form of materiality is most intensely expressed in the work of Edward Weston. That is why I was so impressed by his photographs of Shell, or Dunes near Orlando, among others. Their unusual vision and individual perspectives and unique lighting gave direction to the design of this series. In Strait Photography, the focus is solely on the subject of the image, its simplicity and beauty is the message of the image, with a sharp focus on the subject of the image, distinguishing it from other visual genres. The objective exploitation of the technical possibilities of the camera is a defining characteristic of the genre.

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

“Abstraction allows one to see with the mind what one cannot physically see with the eyes. Abstract art allows the artist to perceive the intangible beyond the tangible, to distill the infinite from the finite.” Arshile Gorky

Everyday cutlery series | abstract | szempillanat.hu | Zsolt Vígh

The graphic structures of the Hungarian-born László Moholy-Nagy, used as a means of experimentation, with his unconventional perspectives, shed new light on the possibility of graphically unfolding photographs in my work. Inspiration drawn from Moholy-Nagy’s photographs is reflected in the graphic, partly logo-like forms of the images in this series. His work has encouraged me to be brave enough to move away from the constraints, possibly the material “pendulum” of cutlery, and place them in a graphic context. In his work, László Moholy-Nagy already departs from an objective objectivity and in his images he reveals the basic photographic question: what makes photography rise from an inherently documentary style to a genre of its own, equivalent to the fine arts, through creative experimentation and development.

Abstract photography

The beginnings of abstract photography can be traced back to the development of chronophotography. With shorter shutter speeds, it became possible to capture and reproduce movement with so-called photographic guns, even to produce deliberately blurred images.

Paul Strand was one of the first avant-garde photographers to elevate photography to the heights of an independent art form. He inspired photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and László Moholy-Nagy. In his 1916 work ‘Abstraction’, he created the formal language of abstraction through the effects of light and shadow and the spatiality of forms. Artists who followed the movement, such as Christian Schad and Man Ray, experimented with everyday objects by placing them on light-sensitive material. Abstract photography has also been inspired by contemporary painting, with the influence of the abstract painter Vasily Vasilievich Kandinsky being a major influence.

László Moholy-Nagy’s photographic experiments with graphic elements had a decisive influence on abstract photography, and he himself made abstract photographs using geometric elements and their transparency.  Alfred Stieglitz’s “Equivalents” series depicted details of the sky without a horizon, showing clouds. In these images, contours and the boundaries of forms are blurred and spatiality is reinterpreted. In his photographs, Stieglitz envisions an everyday phenomenon, the ever-changing sky, which is inherently rich in clouds that present abstract forms.

With his series “Distortion”, André Kertész has gone beyond the abstraction of the object to show how the abstraction of the human body can be represented in images through distortion.

As technology has advanced, the optics of microscopes have made it possible to explore and document the previously invisible, “amorphous” micro-world. The use of electron microscopes and X-ray photography have also opened up new frontiers in the quest for modern abstract photography.

Otto Steinert achieved a creative representation of light in the 1950s with his work “Luminogram II”.

The development of digital technology has also created new possibilities for artistic expression in abstract photography, but here the tools of post-production image manipulation are already emerging. Compared to the creative painting of abstract expressionism (such as Jackson Pollock’s “action painting”), abstract photography without digital artistic postmodification requires a reinterpretation of the message from the real physical world projected through the lens, so that in photography the abstract visual message is built from a more bounded subject based on reality, whereas in painting the initial subject is already unbound. This “photographic boundedness” was an inspiration for me in the creation of the everyday cultery photography series.

Bibliography

  1. Dr. Jenő Sevcsik – József Hefelle: Photography, Technical Book Publishing House, Budapest 1980.
  2. Emil Szegedi – Introduction to Photo-Aesthetics, Technical Book Publishing House, Budapest 1958.
  3. Scott Kelby – Speedlight book for photographers, Perfact publishing, Budapest 2018.
  4. Mai Manó House blog on the work of Edward Weston: https://maimanohaz.blog.hu/2013/04/08/edward_weston – Last accessed 25 September 2021.
  5. Photography website, article by André Kertész: http://www.fotomuveszet.net/korabbi_szamok/201302/emberileg_probaltam_gondolkodni – Last accessed 25 September 2021.
  6. Fidelio.hu André Kertész 125 https://fidelio.hu/vizual/egyetlen-nyelve-a-fotografia-volt-andre-kertesz-125-146503.html – Last access: 25 September 2021.
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  16. Alfred Stieglitz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalents – Last access: 25 September 2021.