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Transmission is a collaborative exhibition by six University of Brighton photography students, and part of the 2010 Brighton Photo Fringe. It is mounted on the ground floor of a disused department store – the other levels host parts of the Biennial – and adjoined to the local post office so that the odd call to “cashier number three please” punctures the still of the gallery space.
“There’s something for everyone to look at,” says Martin Seeds, whose work is instantly arresting as it hangs in the shop window. “From found images, to questions of representation in landscape and national parks, topographics, political… there’s interaction with a foreign landscape, there’s portraits of people in places and how they interact with those places and then there’s images that question the use of the medium itself.”
Seeds poses such questions in his series medium, by challenging the way people interpret the term ‘hand of the artist’. “The strip of film to me is three-dimensional,” he explains, “you can mark it and make grooves – it’s malleable. I wanted to achieve a connection between myself and the sitter so I thought I would register my presence in the image by eroding the emulsion before I expose it.” The results then are a beguiling mix of controlled craftsmanship and serendipity: abstracted and highly expressive portraits that are simply beautiful, but also speak volumes about the artist himself.
This is crucial for the other artists in the exhibition too: Stephen Lamprell’s elegant shots of the South Downs in National Park convey his own uncomfortable feelings about the effects of man on unspoilt nature. Brooding skies and rolling hills frame a burnt-out truck, a mountain of tyres or telephone cables arching forever into the horizon. Jamie Stoker explores other people’s relationship with their environment through a series of contemplative portraiture in both urban and rural settings and, as impartial observers, David Clark and Josef Konczak photograph voters at polling stations, in a type of exposing visual 'vox pop.'
Samuel Wilcox’s work sits particularly well within the disused space. Old negatives have been meticulously reproduced and enlarged to show every sign of age and stroke of man: small children in Sunday best are vague apparitions behind generations of dust and scratches, thumbprints distort long-since forgotten family portraits. “This was a response to my own feelings of ancestry, how I knew - or didn’t know in actual fact - my grandparents,” Wilcox explains of his striking imagery. “So I was patching these holes with the images that I found, someone else’s grandparents. I called it Grey Matter because that’s a more ambiguous part of the brain - and that’s what I was feeling with these images. I’m not sure how they make me feel but they make me feel something.” It is a moving and intriguing set of work that plays on people’s own memories and feelings of nostalgia, inviting them to make up their own stories.
Transmission is a compelling exhibition. Carefully considered and interesting in its eclecticism, it boasts some stunning photography and is well worthy of a visit before it ends this Sunday, 17th October.
Until 17th Oct, 10am-5pm The Old Co-Op Building 94-101 London Road BN1 4LB