JOANNE LEE

 

photogénie

Photogénie is an ongoing series of images, which began in 2002. It is important that they were not special locations and that I did not travel to find them: they were simply the houses, streets, corporate or municipal buildings, public parks and vacant lots that were the backdrop to my daily life. Within these everyday places I was alert to those instants when the very ordinary world was momentarily intensified, seemingly ‘turned up’ a notch or two. Such moments might be the result of a brief change of light as sudden flashes, shadows or reflections animate a seemingly inert location, or are perhaps revealed by a switch in mental focus through which one suddenly attends to an unexpected detail. It is my contention that these photogenic episodes can reinvigorate daily life: making strange the familiar reawakens our ability to see the ‘marvelous erupting in the everyday’.


The term photogénie is derived from film maker & theorist Jean Epstein (who in turn borrowed it from Louis Delluc): he used this word to describe the almost magically transformative power of film/photography. His photogenic wasn't pretty blonde girls or chocolate box cottages, but a kind of ephemeral intensity, which, once noticed, could only be sustained for a matter of seconds before it subsided. Epstein asserts, however, that this fleeting but concentrated moment can be captured by photography: 'A lens zeroes in on it [...] distilling photogénie between its focal planes'."