In phyto-plasts something extraordinary takes place in the confrontation between the viewer and the work of art. The intertwining of vision and movement creates a sense of flux; an unsettling discrepancy between pictorial reality and aesthetic effect.
Artist Megan Jenkinson is well known for her photographs of fastidiously made, layered collages, with their high degree of visual elegance and refinement. An emphasis on individual perception, attention to minute and often incidental detail, a heightened and personal sense of colour, an experimental approach to composition and an adventurous pushing of new digital technologies and materials in recent work, emphasizes Jenkinson’s awareness of the way photography mediates vision through mechanical ways of seeing. This recent work shows Jenkinson’s innovatory technique while retaining a focus on the aesthetic element; on the delicacy and alluring beauty of the images themselves.
phyto-plasts continues Jenkinson’s exploration into optical phenomena and the subtleties and complexities of vision. Although different, there is an experiential correspondence between phyto-plasts and recent work. In “The Certain Islands” series the artist’s use of the lenticular image process simultaneously revealed and concealed elements of the image; mirage islands (seen by early explorers) appear and then disappear from the viewers sightline into the expansive Antarctic Ocean.
The effects of the complex patterns and three-dimensional, folded configuration of Jenkinson’s digitally constructed and manipulated panoramic photographs are activated by the dynamics of both looking, and the shifting and illusory effect that arises from the movement of the viewer in front of the work. The optical effects and visual ambiguities of altered individual perception dramatise the power of the static image to stimulate a physiological response, directly engaging the senses and opening up a new range of experience.
In “Windfalls” Jenkinson says her intention in the image of the persimmon tree “ is to reveal the mutability of the scene; the image of the tree in its abundance changes to a different phase as ripe fruit falls and leaves are shed. One is able to observe the minutiae of nature as well as perceive the tree as part of greater cycles of growth, life and decay. In a broader sense this work is also an attempt to deal with the problematic of the photographic instant, by subsuming the instantaneous within a greater sense of time passing.”
Jenkinson’s spatial composition, colour harmonies, reflection and play of light between the background and foreground in “Lightfalls” have a high degree of finesse and lyricism. The movement and light of the digitally altered photograph of the chrysalis and spiky, translucent pods of the swan plant in various stages of flowering, emblematic of new life unfolding, darkens and the mood alters dramatically with a change of viewing angle in front of the work. This illusory sense of depth, transience and time passing challenges viewers’ perspective on what they are looking at.