Picturing Time and Chance with Found Imagery

In time of instant photographic gratifications, Diego Vidart looks to stop his audience in order to unfold a new timeline. Past and present meet in the incidental collection of photographs.

© Diego Vidart, from the series, Brlantida

The link between past and present has been crucial for thinkers and researchers for hundreds of years. That link has also been important for Diego Vidart’s photographic practice. Through the use of found slide imagery, the Uruguayan photographer addresses time and chance and how they are reflected in photography.

Brlantida is the only word found on the slide boxes which Diego has been collecting for many years. The word was created from the superposition of two labels that with the use, movement, and touch, revealed a new word, but its origin is unknown by the photographer.

I understand you have a great interest in research and the use of found imagery. How did this project develop from that interest?

Brlantida comes from one of the collections that I have been building in the last decade. Every Sunday, across many streets in Montevideo, there are street markets like Tristán Narvaja’s fair, where I walk by and look for maps, books, and family photo slides. This project was born from those thousands of stories recovered from slides. Brlantida is composed of 27 images, and so far, it has only an editorial narrative. It is not a conventional book: it is designed as a folder with 9 loose sheets accompanied by an academic text by Ivan Semeniuk written for the New Scientist.

"They found evidence for several sets of light echoes rippling across patches of dust in the northern Milky Way" - said Semeniuk. From here, it is freed the excuse and concept of Echoes of Light (light echoes rippling across patches of dust in the northern Milky Way), then introduced in a dialogue with the photographs in the folders where I look to generate a journey towards a past space and time."

Important elements such as time and chance are fundamental in this project. We are constantly looking at images, so the goal with this project is to make viewers stop before a series of photographs without an apparent reason, in order to find recovered images of an unknown person.

© Diego Vidart, from the series, Brlantida

How is this project related to your previous works?

The main connection that this project has with my previous works appears in the attempt to question the use and reach of the photographic practice. I seek to question interrogations about the photographic universe: what happens with the photographic act in times of selfies? What documentary values are there in photography? Or, in the case of Brlantida, is it possible to stop and look without an apparent reason?

How do you look to unite, in the photographic dialogue, the communication of new technologies and documentary photography?

The state of interconnection, communication, and digital exchange, in which we are all submerged, creates a platform for the experimentation. The new technologies are the big laboratories to propose new dynamics that can be playful or academic. These are the perfect spaces. Since the new technologies of communication are in constant change and re-definition, I'm looking to question the photographic universe, in particular documentary photography.

Talking more about your images, how did you intervene them?

The key photographic process of Brlantida is time and chance. The idea is to accompany and foster the deterioration process and abstraction of the images, which occur naturally due to climate conditions over a long period of time. I hadn’t actually considered it before, but I guess it could be presented as a slow post-production. My participation is to monitor the process across the years and to decide when are they ‘ready’ to be scanned.

© Diego Vidart, from the series, Brlantida 

Where does the violet colour come from in all the images?

The chromatic colour is defined in a mischievous way, in response to the predominant values of the images. In this case, the visual universe turns a trip to the snow into the cyan and magenta tones. Whereas, in another series that I am currently working on, the beach is the subject and the yellow and green tones are the main colours.

Can you talk about your engagement with the collective, Dokumental.

Dokumental was created a few years ago with the objective of strengthening the works of its members, and secondly, creating long-term projects as a collective and collaboratively. At the moment, we have embarked upon two projects, one of which started in 2014 that focuses on the frontier territory between Uruguay and Brazil. We look to finish this year with what we call, Atlas de la Frontera (The Frontier Atlas).

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Diego Vidart is a photographer and educator. He received a Masters degree in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport, UK. Diego currently works as a lecturer and researcher at the Catholic University of Uruguay. His practice focuses on the photographic act, combining notions about space representation, portrait and archive. Learn more on his PHmuseum profile.

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