Dominique Somers, Inge Henneman (text)

00A


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"In the 00A pictures, something of the conditions of image-making by the technical apparatus becomes visible. That which precedes depiction. The degree zero of the photo." (Inge Henneman)

"For years Dominique Somers has been collecting the first, automatic exposures on analogue photographic film; the “blind”, throwaway shots one mechanically makes while loading the camera and forwarding the film to its starting position. The book 00A contains 314 of those found black-and-white pictures, selected from the artist's larger archive. Each 00A exposure is the result of an uncontrolled mechanical process, of looking without an “I”. Surely the viewing machine has registered what appeared in front of the lens but without an operator the camera remains a myopic dispositif without intention or insight. The automatic image thus reveals something of the substance of the medium, apart from its subject.
Yet penetrating to the essence of photography at the same time destroys its functionality: the image becomes almost entirely abstract. It represents nothing but the photographic process itself. In a single tautological movement the gaze turns on itself. This particular form of photographic abstraction is part of the plastic material with which Somers works. In the repetition of hundreds of 00A images she insists on another way of looking, on sensitivity to sculpting with light and white noise, attention to detail, on capturing the unsteady, fragile appearance of motifs that lose all specificity and threaten to dissolve into the material of the image itself. And in the slow, attentive process of collecting, selecting, editing and remixing of this photographic “waste material”, a liberating, ludic power of the imagination eventually takes over which is not pre-programmed by the apparatus." (publisher's note)

"Dominique Somers’ work '00A' consists of a compilation of found images. The title of the series refers to the starting-point markings, printed between the sprocket holes on the leader of a 35-mm photographic film. Somers has been collecting the first, automatic exposures made on this 00A frame of the negative strip for years. They are the result of a photographic practice that in today’s digital age has almost become a form of archaeology: when positioning a roll of analogue film in the camera, one has to release the shutter a few times and wind a couple of frames forward to reach the starting position (1A) of the unexposed part of the spooled film. It is precisely these throwaway shots that Somers has appropriated. When processing the found photo rolls in their black cassettes she is only interested in the first, “blind” exposures. Her mode of operation can be described as photography without a photographer. Somers inverts the usual procedure, cuts away what the photographer intended to record in a deliberate aesthetical gesture and keeps what he or she considered unworthy of a single glance. She gives this “failed” exposure a second life and a new meaning. Strolling in her archive of found images, the artist trusts in the poetry of the unexpected find: her gaze lights up the unconscious image and lends its autonomy. By assembling hundreds of these involuntary exposures, Somers generates a wonderful universe of technical images." (Inge Henneman)