In three colors I printed photographs of places where the boundaries between sky and earth seem to merge. In the process, the real ground becomes the image, a kind of sedimentation of the visual realm.
North Greenland exists at the edge of human experience–a timeless realm set in a sea of infinite change. Without landmarks in the form of houses, trees or animals and without formal spatial delineations between foreground, middle ground or background, it presents as a dizzying and disorienting territory. In the series Limen, Julian Charrière imagines a liminal encounter with this vast and remote site, a place that challenges the scope of traditional pictorial framing and the Western depictions of landscape.
With Limen, Charrière enters this uncertain milieu not with the aim of documenting an unknown world, but to question the tangled relationship between image-making and reality-making. It asks how landscape painting and photography have come to constitute a canon for how the natural world is perceived, as well as in what ways we can challenge the arbitrary representational practices that structure the world we inhabit. The series is produced through a number of artistic processes, beginning with digital aerial photography using a standardized RGB color palette. Without a sense of direction or distinction between landmass and air the photographs themselves act as immersions. In this sense, the camera ceases to be a separate observer and is instead rendered a layer of the very lithosphere itself.
In the following phase, Charrière collected natural materials from the North Greenlandic landscape, including stones and moraine clay, which is the matter left behind by moving glaciers. Charrière also sampled so-called dark sediment, which are the small rock particles, soot and bacteria that gather in what is known as cryoconites. These are small holes that form on the surface of glaciers, wherein dark sediment builds up only to absorb radiation and accelerate their melting. These samples were crushed and ground into pigments, which were digitally scanned to create custom color schemes based on the materiality of each particular site.
In order to explore the relationship between the mass production of images and the construction of reality, Charrière applied the classic method of photogravure. Having first been developed in the 19th century, this old printmaking technique was integral to early photography and the diffusion of the media that has since come to format our occidental expectations of what a glacier, a woodland, a plantation or a field looks and acts like. The photogravures were made with the North Greenland color profiles, thus rendering each artwork not a function of the human sensory apparatus, but a reflection of the geological life and history of the sites themselves. From the physical journey through the analogue and digital reversals of matter, Limen challenges what real really means–what is the real substance of place, what is the real color of space, and which–if any–is the real ‘Nature’?