Photo exhibition 2023
Zak van Biljon
Friday, May 19, 2023, 13.30
Sunday, May 21, 2023, 15.30
In English and German
Getting a fresh look at the beauties of nature was what we went for Zak van Biljon beyond the visible spectrum. The result was images of an incredible vitality.
Originally developed for military surveillance and crop surveys, the photo technology used captures light in the near-infrared: infrared are wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that lie between what we see as red and the longer wavelengths used for thermal imaging become.
The pigment in plant leaves, chlorophyll, strongly absorbs visible light as they use it as an energy source in photosynthesis.
The cell structure of the leaves, on the other hand, reflects the infrared light particularly strongly. This is because strong absorption would only lead to overheating of the plant and possible tissue damage. The human eye is unable to see infrared light, but it is precisely this reflected energy that reacts with infrared-sensitive material, producing electric pinks and rich reds.
Our idea of landscapes is not just the landscape itself. Nothing exists in itself, but only through our perception. However, perception is subject to both individual observation and the classification of what is seen.
The classification, in turn, is strongly dependent on the images we are confronted with on a daily basis. The famous Windows computer desktop image "Bliss" and other such images have become what we believe to be "true" nature: unspent in an idealized way.
Nature shots don't actually attempt to distort nature itself, rather they reflect our perception of nature. But what kind of picture do we have? On social networks, users exchange myriads of filtered photos of nature - or how they think nature should look like.
While contemporary man is subjected to the permanent and irresistible pull of bright lights in cities and screens, this artificial world takes on something real; at the same time, he mutates natural reality or the reality of nature into hype with the help of technology such as filtered Instagram images. Thus nature becomes random both as a reality and as a concept.
We need a new way of looking at nature in the 21st century, like the 19th century landscape painters who faced industrialization. Humanity's increasing urbanization is ending our symbiotic relationship with nature once and for all in this century. Cities are growing into megacities, more than half of today's population was born in cities, and these new generations are technologized generations oriented towards comfort, but at the price of being detached, perhaps alienated, from nature. However, mankind can never separate from nature, let alone free it.
The vibrant pinks and reds in Zak van Biljons Works will therefore attract those neon-toned city dwellers who believe they have conquered nature yet are unconsciously reminded of nature out there. His art wants the viewer to remember the real landscape when looking at the seemingly unreal world of his photographs.
Zak van Biljon
The land of the red earth is home to Zak van Biljon. Born in South Africa in 1981, the photographer spent his childhood and youth between Johannesburg and Cape Town. In 2003 he graduated at the top of his class from the National College of Photography in Pretoria. Ironically with a study of black and white prints - when the colors of the Rainbow Nation shaped him.
In 2004 he moved to Europe. In Rome he got to know a different kind of sunlight and in London he was at the top of the booking lists for well-known underground fashion labels. He continued his career as a contract and art photographer in Switzerland, where he devotes every free minute to his art projects.
In his work you will find digital as well as analog photographs, contemporary advertising and modern art photography. His main focus is on the scenic use of light. In his latest art project he deals with recordings in infrared. The world seen in shades of red and pink offers a new and impressive look at reality as we know it.