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4 images of the desert and horizon by Ben Gibson

© Ben Gibson

Fearful Symmetry

The latest exhibition of work at Hastings town centre art gallery F-ISH is by Ben Gibson. The son of a journalist, and an art historian, the aesthetic was ingrained in Ben from a young age; he has always been fascinated by dramatic landscapes, and this, coupled with a liking for travel and adventure, influences his artwork, which conveys his wonder of the world, writes F-ISH co-ordinator Joe Fearn.

Following a course in creative photography at the University of New Mexico, Ben studied documentary photography for two years under Magnum photographer David Hurn in Newport South Wales. Shortly after graduation, he got his first freelance assignment for Time Magazine, and six years later, while working on The Observer, found himself described by France’s Photo and Italy’s Corriera della Sera, as one of Britain’s leading photojournalists.

Gibson’s passionate pursuit of excellence has not been achieved without difficulty. He has photographed in North Korea, and covered the first Gulf war and the civil unrest in Somalia, where he was held hostage for 5 days in 1991. Incredibly, in 1987, Ben and another journalist were instrumental in the rescue of a British citizen from North Yemen in a story that made world headlines. Then in 2003 he received what he calls his wake-up call, when he survived serious injuries in a helicopter crash in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Since his early twenties, Ben had been based in London, basically living out of a suitcase. His move to Hastings was partly due to his recognition of the dog-eat-dog competitive milieu he worked in, compared to the socially more satisfying environment of the East Sussex coast, which gave him time to reflect and reassess his life and aspirations.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet may have suffered a paralysis of will due to an excess of the reflective tendency, but a creative person like Ben Gibson needs to employ his craft like a poet needs to write. His earlier work on various magazines provided a good budget, but it came with an ethos of impartiality. Newspapers are concerned with capturing a story; the quality of the picture can help its credibility, but its not essentially concerned with the aesthetic. Throughout Gibson’s career he has used the photographic contact sheet as a primary editing tool in story construction, echoes of which have now emerged in his conceptual photography. Gibson’s artwork, entitled Fearful Symmetry, taken from the poem The Tyger by William Blake, is his first non-photojournalistic work, and features a juxtaposition between one visual image and another. The prints on show at F-ISH are 1.5 metres in height, but are intended eventually to be exhibited at twice this height making the wave installation alone 23 metres x 3 metres.

Ben studied mathematics and physics at the Open University, and the nature of space and time still fascinates him. Invoking segmented time-lines, he has tried to capture the ‘dance’ between physical law and chaos. In the sequence of photographs of The Wave, one image is not the same as another, yet it is of the same wave. The photograph shows how a wave works. Ben Gibson has created a landscape of motion, of change and repetition, enabling the viewer to experience the nature of space, time, equilibrium and chaos, through a visual mantra, repetition as a way of revealing truth.

Posted 18:57 Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 In: Photography

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