In his series Photophobia, Madrid-based photographer Miguel Ángel Tornero draws a parallel between the photographic process and the photosynthesis of plants – both rely on light for their development, he points out, and both will eventually degrade and decompose. In this project photography is a “living being” for the 35-year-old, who incorporates faded found images, often from magazines, in his work.
“I have always been attracted to these decadent images – damaged, poorly maintained and faded by the passage of time – that are usually found in hair salons, haberdasheries, bazaars and old businesses,” he explains. “The first works I did were collages featuring these images grouped around the patches of colour created by exposed photo paper – a material that is constantly changing and therefore alludes to the passing of time and the transience of life. The collages naturally had a three-dimensional shape so I’ve added other photosensitive and reflective materials to create photographic installations.”
Taking these faded images and repurposing them, Tornero gives new life to what he calls a “contemporary aesthetic of the withered”. “These materials are carriers of meaning,” he says. “My challenge is to find the ideal way to establish relationships between the colours, structures, and shapes. They are living works that are never fully completed since many of the elements are constantly changing and reacting to light and other stimuli. In a way, what I’m doing could be described as a contemporary exercise using the primitive and basic premises of photography.”
In this way he hopes to disrupt the contemporary flow of images, and disturb our easy relationship with them; the title of the series, ‘Photophobia’, sums up more than just an intolerance to light, he explains. “[It is] almost a state of mind – a phobia of photography itself, to the image and to the world of images to which we are still hitched,” he says. “Photophobia is a term that could refer to new ways to approach photography, and is like a phobia of conservative photography, which tries to prevent the natural expansion of the medium.”
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