Missing image


Simon Read (1949 – )


38 X 56.5 CM
Accession number


The camera the artist used for this work had a back-plate that pivoted outwards on one axis, so that the photographic paper on which the image formed moved out of parallel with the front of the camera. The human head was contrasted with a plaster cast, the former positioned always at right angles to the front of the camera, became distorted as the distance between the back plate and aperture increases, whilst the plaster cast remained undisturbed. The fascination of this work lies in the camera’s transformation of familiar subject matter; despite the distortions, to which it is subjected, the human head remains instantly recognisable and thus the more clearly demonstrates the nature of the camera’s mediation. Reads use of subject matter is essentially pragmatic, suggested firstly by the technical requirements of the cameras, and his pictures operate above all as images of the properties of his own machines. In this enterprise Read’s motivation is experimental rather than didactic. He constructs the camera, sketches the scenario it is to perform, but thereafter he is content to give the camera its say, accepting the resulting images as the traces of an event over which he can have no precise control.