Kenyon College

Imperial Memories: Speck 2


Imperial Memories: Speck 2, 2010
Edition 2/8
Archival pigment print
15 5/8″ x 14 1/8″
Courtesy of the Artist and Angles Gallery, Los Angeles

The first photograph was taken from the bedroom window of Nicéphore Niépce, overlooking the rooftops of a small village in the East of France. In eight hours, as light lingered on the polished pewter plate inside Niépce’s pinhole camera, photography was born. As the medium developed, so did words to describe it. In 1890, a bulletin of photographic terms used “grain” to describe mottled images. In the 1980s, as screens proliferated, someone described over-enlarged, low-resolution images as “pixelated.” Gersht gives us another word, “speck,” to describe the distorted pointillism of these of these images.

Photographs are all too easy to mistake as facsimiles of reality, but here Gersht withholds perspectival clues—the horizon line or the tree’s stump—in these fragments of branch, blossom and sky. Photographed at night with digital cameras whose light sensors were ill suited to the dark, Gersht wrangles with an imperfect machine and an impossible task: capturing with any sort of clarity the horrors and heartbreaks of Japan’s history.

–Caleb Bissinger ’13
Gund Gallery Associate


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