Steven Pippin at The Photographer’s Gallery

I listened to  a talk by the photographer Steven Pippin at The Photographer’s Gallery this month.pippin-1 youll_never_know_3

Steven pippin was nominated for the 1999 Turner Prize at the Tate. Steve McQueen was the winner that year.

He began his talk by describing his initial struggle with photography, as there was no clear subject that offered a meaning to him; that held significance.  He showed us a photo of the Eiffel Tower, in fog, which questioned the usual image of this tourist attraction.  He described how photography  was a way of copying world and it’s proliferation was in fact outpacing reality.

Whilst searching for his subject:

He converted a fridge and contents and a wardrobe and clothing into a pinhole image. The object itself became the machine to record the pictures. He also used a bathtub, harking back to his father using the bathroom at home as a darkroom. On his regular train journeys, he used the toilet as a camera, with bleach to fix the image and the flush as the water supply to help process the image.There would be a moment in a tunnel, where everything would be dark for a minute. Pippin experimented with this moment where he could load the paper. He also applied for a job at a Photo booth company called  Photo me, but he did not get the job as a technician.  People would also use the booth as a toilet. He also made the photobooth into a large pinhole and used it to take pictures of the outside world.

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Steven Pippin explored the potential of a Laundromat and used  the washing machines as cameras. The machine would take an image of other washing machines then process the image inside the drum.  The washing machine had experienced both the process of creating and recording  itself. Pippin also played with joining two fax machines  together. The initial fax sends blank messages and the response – or nothingness is recorded on a sheet of paper. The nothingness produces marks and feedback. This information loop records the  data of mistakes and errors.


He also created a series of photos that were made up of  half analogue and  half digital  data.  He  made experiments where the camera  would be imploding in on itself into a  non-event or the camera destroying itself; setting fire and recording the process until it melted. He also used  cameras and mirrors to capture a  bullet going through  camera as a type of self-portrait of the camera; at the moment of its destruction.


He has not worked out a way of how a  digital camera can undermine itself, as he does not have the electronic knowledge of digital chip technology yet. Perhaps this is the next exploration for him in the future.


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