January 27, 2023 - March 11, 2023
In his Night Scans series, Will Peck (*1991) visualises the course of a night under the open sky. The works on matte photographic paper show the events from the perspective of a flatbed scanner that has been removed from its original office environment and placed outdoors.
The device running for hours, produces a new scan every thirty seconds. While the scanner works quietly away, it captures everything on its glass bed under the stars. Like a beacon, its bright white light attracts various insects, allowing for many encounters with busy flies, spiders, and beetles. The incentive for this fascinating series was a stay in Tuscany for an artist residency at the prestigious Villa Lena, where the London-based artist experienced the nights as unusually dark and particularly rich in insects.
There is a strange romanticism in those images of the night and its inhabitants, without the "human interference," as art historian Erwin Panofsky once lamented. With their ambiguous appearance, the Night Scans allow the most diverse associations, oscillating somewhere between the sleepy view through a steamy train window and the first striking images of the Hubble telescope. From a distance, the observer might think they are patinated photographs, studded with fine scratches, here and there the outlines of some evaporated water stains and the brightly lit body of a stray insect. That those images are in fact colour scans only becomes evident at the second glance. This makes the different colour nuances and fine, sometimes razor-sharp details even more striking. A distinct wing, a hair, even the light horizontal lines that run through the pictures in various intensities, nevertheless locate the pictures in the present.
Unlike Panofsky's call for humans to recede in the face of technological image creation, Will Peck in turn does not request any ideological demands or the like from the scanning process. However, the Night Scans are also neither a study of nature that follows a strictly objective nor epistemic approach. There, in complete darkness, the scanner is merely just a light and image machine or a silent observer.
Instead, Peck allows chance to enter as a tool. From the encounter of technology and natural phenomenon, Will Peck thus develops an artistic strategy for "natural intervention." In this way, the scanner becomes an interface where fixed, technological processes combine with the unpredictable will of nature. Out of its de-placement, a visual dialogue arises between the scanner and its environment in the encounter with the nocturnal happenings.
Beyond its everyday usage, the device to create the Night Scans ultimately becomes a witness to its own process; its glass scanner bed, as it were, is both eye and image. The results are images of mysterious aesthetics and a sense of the fleeting moment.
British artist Will Peck studied fine art at Metropolitan University London and Sandberg Insituut in Amsterdam, where he completed his MFA in 2017.
His work has been exhibited in Amsterdam, Helsinki, London and elsewhere in the UK, as well as in Vilnius and Tokyo. Most recently he participated in the group exhibitions What about painting? at HELDENREIZER Contemporary (2022) and INCON with (20)...of 21, in 22..., in London, UK (2022). Night Scans is HELDENREIZER Contemporary's first solo presentation of the London-based artist.