Affirmative Anachronisms is the title I give, retrospectively, to a group of images I made c. 2009-2012.
They use old films, old papers, old cameras and old places to bring me, and my photography into an uncertain relationship with history.
The more I became fascinated by these kinds of images the more I also became aware of this area as a trend or growing cultural phenomenon. What I christened ‘affirmative anachronism’ had of course been ingrained in Hollywood flashbacks, or insertions of nostalgic 16mm or home Super-8 movie imagery etc. into advertising, at least as far back as the 1980s. It is significant of our epoch in that it acts as part of an ahistorical, post-modern eclectic relativism. It is easily hijacked by commerce to exacerbate and exploit what might be called our desire for the lost past or for the lost path of Historical progress.
Today it is a commonplace for a teenager to have an ‘app’ on their smartphone or upload-site that ‘ages’ photographs with a ‘cool, retro look’. This ubiquity is part of the reason I moved on to other concerns in photography (less historical ones.)
Nevertheless I value this period of work in which I believe I made some valuable images by personal means and for personal reasons.
Another important feature of these works for me is the way their scratches and disjunctions that appear between frames or badly snagged and awkwardly scanned images allude to another, more physical time, a record of the event of the manufacture of the image, as well as drawing attention to photography’s usually ‘invisible’ or ‘transparent’ surface.
For these reasons I still greatly value these images (most of which have not yet been exhibited) and the visual surprises they gave me to make them.
I feel they haven’t been fully exploited or explicated in a personal (not cultural) sense and I would like to find an opportunity soon to reflect on them more fully in writing (I dream of one day winning a residency to accommodate and enable such a venture), a process which, I believe would enable me to communicate their values and secrets they hold which go above and beyond any commonplace fetishisation of the retro-style photograph.
These pictures can also be linked to the only book I have thus-far made, called The Time Before That as well as to my long and special relationship with London and other cities – about which I have also written and published several articles – e.g. on Rome, London, Amsterdam, Seoul and Dublin (and with memories of Paris, Madrid, New York and Berlin waiting in the wings,).