Initiated by a wish to break away from controlled predefined photography the artist employed a distinct technique by transferring Polaroids onto Watercolor paper and a conscious dividing of the photo into multiple fields. The new take on photography let to the unique expression seen in Limit To Your Love. The blend of motive and technique creates an expression that is organic and sensuous to the eye.
Movement is a series which combines a strong aesthetical point of view with meticulous attention to technical detail. As the title indicates, the series is concerned with giving shape to temporal and spatial aspects inherent in all visual experience.
In the early days of photography, what fascinated people the most, was its ability to capture likeness and freeze time. However, paradoxically the new medium’s ability to fix moments in time, tied it irrevocably to the past. Rather than stop time, traditional photography makes the viewer acutely aware of its passing.
The advent of photography is closely linked to the modern movements in Western painting, which began with the French Realists in the mid-nineteenth century and flourished with impressionism a few decades later. The impressionists abandoned the static and staged imagery of previous eras in favour of a vibrant new style which emphasized momentous impressions over exact likeness.
A similar exploration of the material qualities of colour and surface and the same feeling of experiencing the world in fleeting moments is at play in Movement. Like the impressionists who would often return to the same motifs time after time, Gils is also drawn to sites, which convey a certain atmosphere. He continuously explores these from different angles and at various times of year.
There are differences too, however. While the motif in paintings by impressionist frontrunners such as Monet and Morisot dissolves when one zooms in upon it, the distortions of the images in Movement are revealed upon closer scrutiny to be new details and clear shapes, adding an extra dimension to the images.
As such, the series explores a fluctuation between figuration and abstraction, thus unsettling the unique relationship between the photograph and its real-life referent, which distinguishes it from other modes of representation. While some of the images clearly portray a likeness, others render the original subject almost unrecognizable. In these works, Gils explores what happens to the image when the original referent can no longer be discerned. When the signifier is no longer attached to the signified.
The Movement series also represents a breach with the dominant Nordic landscape tradition, which has tended to favour quietude, subdued colour and a certain melancholic mood. Contrary to this, Jacob Gils’ works are vibrant and dynamic, emphasizing the ongoing exchange between image and beholder.
The ‘Limit to your Love’ series was created by my wish to break away from controlled commercial photography. I wanted to loose control and create something simple. I started by photographing long time friend and professional model Camilla. I used only one lamp and it was just the two of us in the studio. Camilla agreed to do her own hair, make-up and styling. The result was a very emotive portrait that I didn’t want to retouch in Photoshop, so I invited other model friends to sit for me in the same way.
I didn’t want to use Photoshop to clean and perfect the finished images. I wanted some natural imperfections in them so, I experimented for many months to find a technique that worked. I had many failures.
Finally, transferring Polaroids onto watercolour paper achieved the effect I wanted. For the best results I have to work at night in total darkness and require perfect temperatures and timing. I then assemble a set of tiled prints which I rephotograph, digitally signed and send to print.
As large scale, glossy, life size prints the finished portraits might be mistaken as highly polished digital commercial or editorial work. However, below the glossy surface they are very analogue, natural and raw, with imperfections resulting in organic textures.
The focus of my most recent work is the relationship between movement and the built environment. My Multi Shot collection starts with 25-30 photos taken of a familiar landmark on a city street. It’s not until I place these images together, that I can see if the composition is going to work. I hang it up in my home, to see if its good enough to go further with and make a final print.
When I graduated you couldn’t show an unsharp photo. Ideas about photography have changed and it’s nice you can do what ever you like. I think there has been a very big development in educating in Denmark and the rest of the world. You can make an unsharp photo, a pixilated image on the iPhone, what ever you want. Basically here are no rules anymore. For me personally it is important that the technique it is not easy. Maybe its because I like to see an uncontrolled theme in my pictures.
If you ask an artist, painter or musician what they like most about their craft they usually reply, it’s because they can’t not do it – and I feel the same. Taking photos is not for saving the world or anything fancy it’s just for my own sake. I can’t stop doing it. I do it for my personal creative thought process.