Center Field | The Stage of Scientific Reproduction: An Interview with Jeremy Bolen

February 23, 2013 | Published Articles, Writing

Jeremy Bolen. "CERN" 2013

Jeremy Bolen. “CERN,” 2013. Courtesy the artist.

CERN, an exhibit of Jeremy Bolen’s documentary photographs, is on display at Andrew Rafacz Gallery until March 30. Here, Bolen presents a series of work that measures phenomena invisible to the human eye. Bolen has made a habit of such investigations. With a solid background in American landscape and survey photography, he has gone on to make the environment itself a lens for exposure, exposing film to bioluminescent plankton underwater by using the lake as a camera lens. He has buried film underground in order to capture traces of  buried radioactivity on photographic paper, and exposed film in radioactive rivers.

In this latest series, Bolen spent a week at CERN, the site of the only Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the world, leaving film in different parts of the laboratory and surrounding landscape to measure the effects of particle acceleration. Bolen’s resulting photographs vary. In some cases we are givin only the ambient, abstract trace of invisible phenomena. In other instances, Bolen inserts a traditional landscape portrait—like a caption—into his ambient fields as a way of presenting another kind of image that explains where the film was exposed. In still other instances, the relationship is inverted: the traditional landscape image of Geneva’s pictueresque environment frames a black square in which we see a slight trace of color: a portrait of anti-matter. Although these images read like abstractions, they are entirely literal. One might even suggest that Bolen is trying to exhaust every mode of site documentation, incorporating different angles of the same location into one frame, while adding site specific materials. At CERN, 600 million collisions occur each second. These collisions are attempted reenactments of the Big Bang. Bolen is working to document the otherwise invisible effects of that staged, scientific reproduction. (read more)