James McArdle

a folio of work

Vortex: Now showing at Smyrnios Gallery 13 April to 1 May 2004
Where is the way amongst these staves of spindly coppiced trunks and over the broken ground that leads off into perplexity? Confusion and chaos confront us in this landscape. To make images of it challenges even sight.
For a human being the landscape is understood in a transit which the camera’s glass cyclops forgets. How can one snatched moment indicate a sense of direction that only the span of time can return? But with two eyes, from where we stand we are in two places at once, and at two points in our course.
This product of our physical evolution, photography imitates with the familiar stereo pair. The device blends two unyieldingly parallel lines of vision so that our eyes can reconstitute a three dimensional scene. But it is cardboard scenery, containing only an expectation of space and missing the skeleton dimension of time.

In life our whole biology, our socketed eyes, mobile head, articulated body, participates in searching our space. As our eyes focus they converge. Attention is a convergence on particulars.
I have revised stereo imaging with the ambition of reproducing human convergent vision. What is revealed is that what we see, what we attend to, actually appears at the nodes of a series of vortices. Each vortex is a moiré caused by the interference of converging views of the same scene, reproduced in these works by re-exposing film in the view camera from two or more positions.
Like a magnetic field, the vortex remains invisible in our everyday vision, but appears in these images. It is imprinted from individual perspectives at particular places; a new perspective with a point of apparition rather than of vanishing.
For me the vortex is the sign of the person in the landscape.


These are portraits of relationships.

What you might see about to happen in my photographs too, has happened. They often look like family photographs. Marriages have failed, children been born. I can know this because I know the people. But the photograph comes before, it is 'Before' and because the subjects are anonymous the viewer cannot know what comes after any more than I can tell you what they will do tomorrow. In this way, what starts as a document ends looking as much a like fiction as a predictive biography might, if there is such a thing.

James McArdle's full artist statement


full text of article from "Beyond the Divide":The Paradox of the Photographic Portrait


""These images come to me from discoveries I make when walking amongst the ruins and traces of old settlements in the Central Goldfields - its a time when I think about my life and the people in it, musing also on the lives of other people who inhabited the area one hundred and more years ago. Amongst the glitter of quartz and shale fragments I might catch the white of a piece of porcelain, a shard from a discarded plate or washbowl or cup.

"When scratched out of the clay most are disappointingly blank, but many are patterned with designs sun-bleached to a startling cerulean. Occasionally a revelation is made - distant hills, a building, rowers, a fountain, figures in an imagined idyllic landscape that existed on someone's crockery. Perhaps the design was chosen and treasured for the way it reminded them of a distant home or brought something beautiful into hard lives.

"Usually, I make portraits of people and relationships using the environment of the photograph as a way of revealing and understanding them. Portraits are an attempt to describe a person's life in one image - a ridiculous undertaking, but one that for me is the most important form of art because (if they are good) they become treasured as miniatures or fragments of real people. These pictures are portraits too, but the environment consists of these found patterns and images and the lives inlaid on them are real, remembered or imagined.".