The puzzle of the photos at Hove Museum show by artist Von Holleben

Amazing Analogue by Jan von Holleben
Copyright Jan von Holleben

There was no alternative. I had to sit down on the floor and look a little longer. A photo by a group of Brighton youngsters and German photographer Jan Von Holleben had me stumped.

Called The Amazing Analogue: How we play photography, the exhibition of photography is a new exhibition at Hove Museum exploring the playful side of picture making.

I found the images fun, fascinating and extremely perplexing. The element which caused confusion is that von Holleben works with film and not digital and I simply can’t work out ‘how they’ve done it.’

They are a group of young people from Brighton and Hove who worked with von Holleben at the museum. Their starting point was the photography collection which documents the pioneering work of early photographers in Hove.

Amazing Analogue by Jan von Holleben
Copyright Jan von Holleben

Von Holleben discovered a dusty old box of slides and negatives which he showed to the children in order to inspire them and get them thinking.

The images are curious – shapes and textures which are beautiful and colourful. From those images, the groups started to create machines which echo the early cameras and projectors in the museum collection as well as the shapes in the old images. Using modern bits and pieces from machines and general life they have created some incredible looking, almost Heath Robinson style creations, which are ‘designed’ to view the images.

But that’s where I’m stumped – I’ve no idea how they have managed to create such visual tricks – there’s a peg bigger than a boy.  A huge light bulb hangs from a table. The children appear to be operating a machine made out of a mobile phone as big as them.

The images are playful and intriguing. I can see some of the tricks are produced by the use of perspective but it’s hard, knowing there is no digital manipulation to understand how each image is created. I sat for a long time, analysing how each machine was manipulated by a camera, with no clever computer tricks to create the effects.

Photographers may know the answers but I left with little idea of the mechanics behind the trickery. I don’t really mind.  It doesn’t detract from the beautiful, intricate and entertaining images.

This show is part of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2014 called Communities Collectives and Collaboration which runs until November 2.  There are a series of events, shows, talks and screenings happening across the city organised by Brighton-based Photoworks.

Caroline Sutton, Blogger in Residence

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