Below The Visible Spectrum

Blaž Erzetič (1973) is a versatile artist who, in his works, skilfully combines graphic arts and photography. In the last decade he has completed several thematically rounded series (Human Behaviour, (F)utile Machines, Gothique, Time Heals…), which share a reflection about modern techno-fetishism and human obsession with the technological progress.

This topic is also obvious in his new series of 18 black and white photographs, entitled Sub720, representing specific geographic segments of urbanized landscape in Šempeter, a south-east suburb of two border towns, Nova Gorica and Gorizia. The main motive is the suburban architecture/infrastructure of the local industrial zone, which makes the exact location of some photos unrecognisable. However, the geographic location is of minor importance in the outline scheme, since suburbia of industrialized towns are pretty similar from one place to another. In a way, industrial areas are anonymous urban tissues with enormous and uniform factory objects without any site-specific architectural particularity, everything being situated beside the traffic infrastructure. In author's opinion the south-east suburbia are the areas that are elsewhere perceived as insignificant and inferior parts of big cities with rich cultural heritage, the home of marginalized immigrant groups. Besides portraying the industrial zone, the photos also comprise motives of landscape and monotonous suburban quarters where people are almost absent. However, traces of man's presence can be noticed everywhere, be it indispensable modern means of transport or waste that has been thrown away carelessly.

This time the author focuses on the idea of uncontrolled suburbanization and landscape being re-shaped by man, which emerged within the topographic photography of the seventies. On the other hand he investigates the illusionist range of the photographic medium, made possible by the combination of the infrared filter and high dynamic range imaging (HDRI – a computer technique of merging several photos of the same subject with different exposure, into a single one). This kind of images, as captured on photos, is not accessible to the naked eye, but neither do generic architecture or commonplace suburban scape in general attract the viewer's interest. From the new perspective of invisible and slow infrared light (below the frequency of 720 nm wavelength), however, unremarkable objects and motives of decaying waste, which, reminding of transience, are not alluring, become interesting, sometimes even attractive. Even more, plants and objects are pervaded by an unusual light, which (thanks to the HDRI approach) softens the contrast between light and dark areas of the shots, at the same time emphasizing the details that are unseen to the eye, such as the peculiar cloud shapes in the sky, reflections in puddles and the tracks made by car tires on the asphalt.

By merging classic photography and digital technology, the author has created tonally equalized images that exceed pure documentation. Mysterious light conceals the decadence of the objects, the rotting trash and violent interventions into nature, as well as the monotony of the suburban life. However, the photos emanate a bitter feeling of obscurity, melancholy and resignation. Actually it seems that torpid architectural and natural landscapes, sometimes dominated by menacing black clouds, are Erzetič's soulscapes, which can be understood not only as a metaphor for the atmosphere in the marginalized parts of towns, but also as author's complex visualization of the general state of mind in Western culture.

Nataša Kovšca