The Photographer’s Material, 2012
16 photographs, InkjetPrints, framed
25 cm x 25 cm

The series The Photographer’s Material shows the photographer’s equipment: cameras, films, an umbrella reflector, a tripod, a flash metre, etc. As the title implies, the 16 objects Anne-Lena Michel photographed for the series, could all have contributed to their technically precise exposure.

Two elements contribute particularly to the elevated visibility of each object: a frontal light source that is arranged outside the shown image space as well as a deep black background that doesn’t provide any depth cues. Certain pairs of objects that broach the issue of a coexistence of analogue and digital photography become apparent: an analogue Mamiya camera and a digital Nikon camera, a film box and a memory card.

Arranged in a block, there isn’t a perceptible hierarchy between the two photographic eras–they are presented on an equal footing. An “interfering” object symbolises the transition from one era to the other: the scanning mask that serves as a support for negatives and transparencies during the scanning process. Digital photographic archives have largely replaced analogue archives, rendering such technology at least partially obsolete. Digital technology enables the storage and conservation of large, sensitive prints as digital data. Due to the possibility of coding and compression, thousands of image files can be stored on an external hard disc. The visible, portable and compact archive also features among the 16 objects.
The photographed object however remains illegible without the appropriate interface.

Essay by Hélène Meisel for the exhibition catalogue accompanying Archives - Un inventaire sans fin, Goethe Institute, Paris, 2012