From the 5th February — 21st March 2015 Atlas Gallery will host the first UK exhibition of works by celebrated Helsinki School photographer Niko Luoma. Luoma was born in Helsinki in 1970 and began to create his unique photographs in the late 1990s. The gallery will present 'Temporal Matter', a display of works created between 2006 and 2014, encompassing four major series' of work — Cronos, Motives, Symmetrium and Variations on a Standard of Space.
Luoma's monumental works are highly unique, being visual records of their own creation, capturing both the scientific yet unexpected nature of photography. In essence, Luoma's focus on the process of creating a photograph becomes the very content of his work. By using an analogue technique he exposes a negative to single lines of light hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of times.
Luoma's method is a paradox — whilst he controls the creation of his works to a high level of scientific precision (he meticulously maps them out in advance using drawings where he explores scientific concepts of space; height, width and depth) he leaves their final realisation to the inner workings of an analogue camera, which cannot be totally controlled. The results are works of either mind-boggling beauty or failure and this cannot be known until the irreversable process of developing his negatives.
His series' Cronos' and 'Symmetrium' explore the linear use of light in the photographic process — the pure mathematical embodiment of exposing a negative. Echoing the abstract expressionist works of 1960s American artists such as Sol LeWitt and Jackson Pollock, these works are evidence of Luoma's fascination with visualising the process of creating a photograph.
The 'Cronos' series marked the first use of multiple exposures on to a single negative as a method of creating work. Each work from that series shows an abstract image of a day, illustrating the constantly changing interplay of light with the everyday objects on the table in Luoma's studio. First, a small drawing of lines illustrating this phenomenon was made which represented the passing of time in one day. Then each line of the drawing was photographed in the studio according to the drawing, one by one, on the same negative, using only light as material. The drawing functioned as a blueprint for the creation of an abstract photograph, depicting time itself passing over one day- "One day in March".
In 'Symmetrium' he takes this obsession to an overwhelmingly complex level — these works can take weeks to complete, exposing the negative thousands of times, to create works with a hypnotic illusion of depth and space.
The most recent works on display are his monumental pieces from the Variation on a Standard of Space series. These works are a response to Paul Cezannes notion that, 'all depiction of nature can be reduced to three solids: Cube, Sphere and Cone.' Instead of thousands of exposures, Luoma is now constrained by the parameters of these shapes, and he de-constructs the 3D shape into a series of 2D exposures, directly onto a negative by using concepts of "collapse" and "unfolding". Complex, ordered processes with a disordered outcome. The cone, cube and sphere as ideas of space are each reduced to 12. The number of lines and exposures is rooted on the basic idea of how to visualize the ideal standard of space, a Cube. Each line stands for one exposure on a negative. Then the idea of space is randomized by a series of 12 individual exposures of three colors; red, green and blue.
The choice of title's for his works (such as 'Radius', 'Octagonal' and 'Spira') reflects the unknowable, and knowable, nature of his works with 'Entropy' best encapsulating them — a scientific measurement of disorder.
Luoma says of his works "My work is about reduction and repetition, layering ideas of systems and chance. Ultimately my core interest lies not in the front of the camera but inside of it where the exposure becomes a content."