Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bite 35: Theo Schoon - Geothermal Study No. 6, c. 1950

Geothermal Study No. 6, c. 1950
Through extreme close-up, decontextualising geothermal pools from their surroundings, Schoon is able to draw an abstract beauty and symmetry out of unique but natural phenomena found in Rotorua,  New Zealand. Altogether transcending traditional tourist imagery of the twentieth century he had an obsessive purpose - to reach past the trite and commercial to the unique, the magical, the true beauty of these areas," as Michael Dunn explains.

Arguably true abstraction within 'straight' photography is impossible, so instead Schoon responds to an abstraction already present in nature, representing a kind of Modernist vigor. The organic compositions came from months of observation, analyzing the perfect light to illuminate the glistening mud pools for the black and white negative, and waiting for the requisite combination of bubbles and flow. 

The result here is an image where the elements seem in conversation - or at least compositional equilibrium. This is photography in a pure form of its intended purpose - to freeze a moment for deliberation, to hold-still a changing surface so as to fully comprehend its inherent beauty and abstractness.

New Zealand Art From Cook to Contemporary, Te Papa Press, 2010.