Lisa Sette Gallery: Vessels

DAMION BERGER: Newsletter Essay, Fall 2014
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In contrast to the fleeting trajectories of powerful pyrotechnic explosions documented in his Black Powder series, Damion Berger’s latest series of photographs Vessels is the genesis of a delicate interplay of time and movement – all-night-long exposures of sailing yachts, mega-yachts or cruise ships at rest, drifting around their anchors at the mercy of the wind and currents, against the backdrop of a dark Mediterranean sea.

Leaving the camera’s shutter open throughout the hours of darkness while stopping the lens down to the smallest aperture of f/64, only the brightest point-sources of lights affixed to the ship’s superstructure register on the negative, recording arcs of movement and rotation as the lights bob up and down with the waves akin to an electrocardiogram, while plotting a slow and variable circumnavigation around its anchor.

Printed in the negative, the resulting photographs are like layered line drawings whose geometry is proportionate to the degree of a boat’s movement over time and the arrangement of its lights. Occasionally figurative but mostly abstract or architectural in form, these vessels appear as perfect islands, angular semi-spherical structures or UFO’s, whose presence seems in stark juxtaposition to the contemplative context of the expansive seascape and distant horizon.