Graduates 2020: Louise Coates: Photography

 The work I create can be categorised as ‘camera-less’ photography. That is, I do not use a camera and lens, but create images through the contact of light on light-sensitive paper.

I have become almost obsessed with the space of the darkroom, and have spent the majority of my course experimenting with various alternative processes and techniques. I began by creating photograms of fragments of plant-life, commenting on the impermanence of life. I later used the ephemeral nature of condensation to explore more fully the tension between photography and its efforts to cease, or fix, an unceasing and ‘un-fixable’ world.

Throughout my time at University, I have become increasingly aware of what it is that draws me to these alternative processes – what compels me to submerge myself in the darkness of the darkroom. I understand now that my intentions lie in stripping the medium of photography down, of paring it back to its most fundamental characteristics. To me, those essential properties of photography – those elements without which it simply would not be – are light and time, coupled with the human desire to fix.

My most recent project, That Which It Is, explores the medium’s ‘core’ in even greater depth. It is about the ontological nature of photography. It is about looking at the photograph itself, to its surface, as opposed to the illusion of reality that so often tricks a viewer of traditional photographs. Each print in this series has been hand-crafted, created solely through the contact of light on light-sensitive paper. The longer the light has been allowed to sit on the paper, the darker the greys. The shorter the time, the lighter those greys become. From faint white to pure black, each shade of grey represents a different interval of time – all of which collide into the quiet space of a single frame.

My influences span across a variety of disciplines, from philosophy to other artistic mediums. My earlier projects have been greatly inspired by camera-less photographers Floris Neusüss and Adam Fuss. I have explored not only the history of photography, but the history of art, looking most recently at abstract art with the works of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. My most recent project has much in common with the Cubist notion of representing the Fourth Dimension through simultaneity (the combination of different points of view in time on a single canvas).


How have you found your course/time at Brighton?

 Before starting the BA(Hons) Photography course at the University of Brighton, I had hardly been in a darkroom. I had always been intrigued by analogue processes but had never really explored them before. The darkroom facilities in the basement of the Edward Street building allowed me the creative freedom to explore different ways of image-making. Without these facilities, and without the support from our tutors and technicians, my creative practice would not be where it is today.

I began the course with little knowledge of photography theory, and with little idea of what defines me as an artist. Now, my practice is steeped with theory, with the history of photography and its relationship to other artistic practices. I have grown into a much more confident artist, and can now say that I have my own, unique identity.


What are your plans after Graduation?

I am planning to take a bit of a break from academic life – but would like to pursue postgraduate study in the future. At the moment, my plan is to work, and to hopefully be able to support the continuation and development of my creative practice. I also plan to enter the Free Range show in London with other course-mates, which has been postponed due to the current restrictions on holding public events. I plan to put on as many exhibitions as I can once the threat of the coronavirus pandemic eases. Collaborating with the many talented artists that I have met on the course is of great interest to me, and I am hopeful that we will keep in contact after we graduate.

I am looking forward to further exploring my interests in photography as art, and to developing and strengthening the techniques that I began whilst a student of the University. I have also been working on my own website, through which I will hopefully begin selling some of my work. 

Louise’s website

Follow Louise on Instagram

See Louise’s work in the Graduate Show 2020

Find out more about BA(Hons) Photography

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