Evanescent, illusionary and charged with movement, the photographic images of Tracy Porteous reference the landscape by their simple titles - Kaipara, South Canterbury, Shanghai - yet these are merely portals to the named locations. ‘I’m interested in making images of light in the world rather than images of the world through light,’ Porteous explains, ‘I seek, through my camera, visual descriptions of light as dynamic propositions of energy defined by but not fully subsumed into the world.’
What fascinates Porteous is what she calls a ‘slippage zone’ between what humans are trained to expect and process as visual information - in these instances landscapes - and the idea of other possibilities existing in a visual parallel that only the camera can index.
The images are created in-camera in single long exposures which allows the light filtering into the interior to layer onto the light sensitive digital sensor inside a DSLR, utilising the camera’s genius as a light gathering machine that can translate light to mark, positive to negative and back again. The suggestion of motion, which Porteous creates through what she describes as 'an intuitive performance of movement' involving herself and her camera in direct response to the physical aspects of the particular environment she is working in, references ideas of the constant energy and phenomenal speed of light. Importantly, this movement allows Porteous to by-pass the light/world binary, so that her images speak of light first, the world second or if at all. This type of approach to photography recalls the work of the Dadaist and Surrealist Movements of the early Twentieth Century.
In the artist’s conscious avoidance of direct or realist representation, forms merge and mutate leaving only aspects of light, mainly through nuances of colour, to create the image. The named locations become whole new landscapes that make no reference to anything outside their own existence as light. 'The works remain, Porteous says, despite their intense abstraction, 'descriptions of the environment as much as any other photograph. Who is to say these images dont exist? - not the camera.'