Marten Elder sees that the digital camera sensor records the world in a fundamentally different way than traditional emulsion-based film processes. It has only been through specific technological efforts that digital photography has come to replicate the look of film, itself an attempt to approximate human vision. The parallels and distinctions between the way that the human eye and the digital camera process information is of particular interest to Marten Elder. The title of the exhibition, Retinex, comes from a term developed by scientist and co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, Edwin H. Land in the 1970s to explain his belief that both the eye (retina) and the brain (cortex) are involved in human colour perception and image processing. Human colour perception has proven to be much more complex, but the term has new relevance in digital photography where the photograph’s representation of the world is a combination of the data captured by the sensor and the computer’s interpretation of that data. It is this parallel of computer vision to human vision that is the focus of Marten Elder’s photographic experimentation.
In previous exhibitions Marten Elder’s subjects have included window views and exterior architecture. Retinex sees the artist largely turns his interest to plants, vegetation, and the natural landscape, creating photographs that explore how colour is seen and understood by the human eye and the digital camera. Using specified colour temperature selections and multiple rounds of processing, images such as pr 56 (liz’s plant) reveal all the subtle variations of green – some bluer, some redder – that the digital camera records but normally discards in the interest of presenting a more “familiar” image. By encouraging the camera to see these colour variations in relation to one another, the photograph takes on hallucinogenic characteristics that appear synthetic but are in fact entirely based on existing colour relationships.
pr 69/Archival pigment print on fiber-based paper /32″ x 24″/2016 (Edition of 3)
pr 56/Archival pigment print on fiber-based paper/37″ x 27 3/4″/2016 (Edition of 3)
pr 76/Archival pigment print on fiber-based paper/40″ x 30″/2017 (Edition of 3)
pr 75/ Archival pigment print on fiber-based paper/33″ x 44″/2017 (Edition of 3)