Another Glasgow School of Art graduate has caught our eye this week with his concept-driven photography
It may seem like we’re being a little biased at the moment, but following Sam Walker‘s fantastic illustration last week, we’re featuring his classmate this time around. Indeed, the Communication Design course at Glasgow School of Art is seriously bolstering it’s fierce reputation with this year’s graduating crop.
Photography is a vast craft, one that often takes years for practitioners to find their niche in. Much of the photographic work we get sent can be filed in the ‘fashion editorial’ spectrum, not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. It’s refreshing though when we see work that is conceptually strong, using the medium to explore ideas that are a bit more out there.
All the way out there, somewhere in another galaxy is Alan Knox. An interest in astronomy and the desire to explore and honour his grandfather’s life have combined to great effect in two of his most recent projects. The first, Man in the Moon consists of large format black and white negatives from Alan’s family archive. The images were held to the sky so to be backlit with the full Moon’s reflection, the faces of his ancestors filter the motion of the lunar orbit which which he has traced by re-photographing the negatives at regular intervals.
Quite remarkable is Universal Sympathy, where Alan takes another step forward by creating a series with his grandfather’s ashes. Duncan Marshall’s remains are scattered in patterns resembling universal phenomena onto photographic paper as photograms. Through this process Alan hopes that “the viewer may perceive stellar patterns stretching almost as far back as the Big Bang, reconnecting the remains of the dead with the origin of all life whilst also questioning the photographic substrate as a sublime object”.
He points out that in ancient Roman mythology, Pluto was considered the lord of the underworld and ruler of the dead whilst for Plato, the soul was elevated to the night sky in death. As such, he hopes the recent NASA flypast of Pluto and internment of the remains of Clyde Tombaugh may remind the viewer of the ancient tradition of viewing in the cosmic landscape a final resting place for the dead.
Alan’s other projects catch the eye as well. Schengland cleverly comments on the impact that the EU’s Schengen zone has unintentionally had on external border control. Hobby of Kings, timed to coincide with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, photographs members of Lanarkshire Philatelic Society in Hamilton in a manner mimicking the Queen’s pose on many of the stamps they collect. Time after time, Alan’s final images are sharp and compelling visually, the idea and story behind them though, elevates them further and offers bodies of work of real substance.
His practice often borders on fine art, although his influences and interests are wonderfully varied. We’ve selected a handful of our favourite images below, but sincerely recommend that you click on through to his site and enjoy the projects in their full, intriguing context. Furthermore, if you’re in London, you can see some exclusive work from Unfinished Sympathy at Daniel Blau Gallery as part of their third 5 Under 30 exhibition until 31st July.