Aug 24 2011: Two Monochrome Photographs Contrasting Heroic and Automated Mining Techniques (Dates & Locations Unknown)

Two images: one is a photograph of an unidentified miner in which his figure is framed as a kind of elemental archetype, representing labour itself as his skin becomes one with the geology he hews. The other is a technocratic re-photographed illustration showing an unmanned conveyor belt (this is signed Duncombe but I’ve not managed to find any information on who this illustrator might have been: anyone know?). Both photographs turned up in the same place: perhaps oddly, or perhaps appropriately, they were between the pages of a 1949 Chanticleer Press book on Henry Fuseli’s drawings by Paul Ganz, as though they’d been used as bookmarks then forgotten.

Though neither the images themselves, nor the book they were tucked away inside, have much in common with each other there’s a sense that some chance threads exist nevertheless. Fuseli’s graphic underworld with its phantasmagorias, shadows and Blakean emanations; the conveyor belt’s blandly efficient operation in a tunnel completely devoid of people; the individual collier striking into rock, taking on the earth itself with a heavily phallic drill as shadows open implied voids in the wall beside him. Something subterranean, perhaps, or something about contrasts of light and shadow – intuited rather than rationally conceived connections between randomly clustered things.


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