Recent photographic works by Rick Copsey, who teaches on the Contemporary Art History programme, will be on display at the Untitled Gallery in Manchester from 14 September. To produce these works Copsey took photographs of painted surfaces in such a way that the resulting images look like seascapes. This effect is the consequence of the relationship between light and the paint and the minute scale of the paint surfaces that are pictured. These works touch on many things. For a start they present us with another example of the different kinds of interactions between painting and photography that have existed since the invention of the latter medium in the early-nineteenth century. Though obviously, unlike Gerhard Richter and other photo-painters, Copsey photographs paint rather than paints photographs. The works also raise questions about memory and why the artist noticed particular things in the painted surfaces he photographs. Is Copsey reacting to personal experience – having been taught fine art in Cornwall – or to a more collective memory of seascapes with their origin in Turner, the minor-genre of the shipwreck, and perhaps through cinema? Or is he reacting to both? For me, the images Copsey has produced also point to Walter Benjamin’s notion of the ‘optical unconscious’: the idea that the camera can reveal to us a world of the unseen – because it is too small or moving too fast – that eludes the naked eye.
Rick’s exhibition is open until 27 October – take a look.