Night, Light

Ola Rindal


The visual territory we enter in Ola Rindal’s Night, Light brings to mind retrieved data from a black box. Washed out snapshots of potentially unsettling situations at night, captured with the scrupulous indifference of a machine. Rindal’s images appear to be saved from the archival night of an abandoned camera. It’s almost like found footage of undefined, dark corners of reality.

Random and controlled in character, the images are riddled with an acute sense of danger. And they all display a recurrent pattern: the immediacy and surprise of encountering the unknown. They seem to be, quite literally, shots in the dark.

No wonder the impression we get from the »Night, Light« series is of someone groping in the dark, guided by the occasional flash of the camera. These are images triggered by someone who’s anxiously anticipating what the camera will reveal.

»Night, light« seems to exploit the tension between the fear of seeing and the fear of what’s hidden from our view. This dynamic takes on a different meaning depending on whether we’re confronted with urban darkness or nature’s murkiness. Rindal’s photographic approach to the city and nature is the same but the ultimate effect differs.

We become night-goggle spies on what the darkness hides from our view. And yet, what we see doesn’t fully appease us. Under the photographically lifted veil of darkness a mystery still remains.

In the images that evidently originate from a big city we are given hints of life off the social grid. It’s a walk on the dark side. A world peopled by street gangs, vagrants and hustlers, where the intentions of others are shady – at least these are the stereotypes our imagination comes up with. We become lonely nightwalkers halting at what appears to be empty places and blind alleys. Experiencing the vulnerability one feels when walking at night in places we do not know.

Gently pushed out of the city center into the woods, we are confronted with the dead calm of nature. Its tranquility tends to stimulate the fantasy of the monstrous, something which children’s books like the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel taps into. And it’s hard not to let one’s imagination run wild and read Wicca religion, primitive rituals or witchcraft into these images of nature.

However, they are completely devoid of any visual manifestation of the occult. Rindal clearly knows that the fundamentally expressionless character of nature is what makes it a mystery. In the end, the only thing we can say about it is that it is an enigma.

Filed under Art, Photography
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