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Unpredictable

By Lex Barrie

Captured in a fleeting complexity is the unpredictable methods and “solargraphy” of Peter Friedrichsen’s works in “Perceptible I Imperceptible”, exhibited now at Propeller Art Gallery. Through the imagery of urban and rural landscapes, viewers will experience the view of long exposure pinhole photography, taken over an extended period of winter days and nights in 2021 and 2022. The images are clearly altered or distorted by the environmental conditions with which the cameras endured, however, each work demonstrates a beautifully shadowed rendition of either the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula or Toronto’s very own, Don River Valley. 

The small pinhole cameras expose a photographic paper which was later recovered, removed and scanned to create printed versions of the digital images we see in the gallery today. No chemicals were used in the development stages or to fix any of the environmental exposures endured over its time outdoors. The silver halide (a chemical in the pinhole camera paper which forms images when exposed to light) developed in varying intensities for each piece, upon inversion, giving us the colours we see.

Walking into the gallery space, viewers are able to see the individual canisters which held the paper, hanging from the ceiling. Turning to his works, one is immediately struck by the detail and unpredictability of the camera’s captures during the exposure periods. No two are exactly alike and include varying forms of trees, still water or snow and even fog-like distortions. 

“Solargraphy”, as it has been called, is the exposure of the sun within the photographic medium, by observing the path of the sun in the sky. As Peter describes, “We typically do not give the sun much thought but from a scientific perspective: it gives us all life and it is expected to burn for billions of years more”. As such, his photographic practice drew him to the contemplations and questionings of the impermanence with which we live our everyday lives on this planet. 

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