Der erweiterte Konzeptualismus von Henry Landers

Transitory Realism

My method of b / w photography is effective where an impression arises of grainy shimmering transcendence, where reality is shaped by the accumulation of elemental conditions. Reality in transit. In my b/w photographs, a visible, nameable likeness is not a prioriity. For me, rather, it is about the fundamental process of expressing reality. My photographs are reminiscent of thin cross-sections of tissue. Except that here, a slice is cut through textures of matter, space, time and emptiness, perhaps even to appear as "Dark" material and "Dark" energy.

Three Aspects

1 EMPTINESS – as Labyrinth

2 GRANULARITY – as 11-Dimensional sources of reality (Calabi-Yau Manifold)

3 ALLEGORY – white for where we come from and black for where we are unable to go. (Plato's allegory of the cave)

Photography of the series "Manifold IV - Transit - No.13", original size detail

Image Technology

The deep structure of the subject and the film material is revealed through authentic photography using a grainy film with my own photography and image development technology together with my digital scaling and sharpening method. By the use of authentic photography I disperse the surfaces of objects and allow the universal structure of reality to be viewed in a higher dimension. In the digital process I use only those functions which intensify and make visible existing structures in the film. Colours appear in the grain which result from the conversion of gray-scale values in tints. The homogeneous colour surfaces in my images symbolise simultaneously the emptiness of matter and also intangible emotional conditions. Camera: Nikon FA, Lens: AF Nikkor 24 mm, Filter: b/w conversion filter red/orange, Film: Kodak T-Max 3200 - 24 x 36 mm

Aspect 1: EMPTINES

Emptiness is an illusion. It is a labrynth, it blocks the view, it masks the deeper world, it causes uneasiness in those who have forgotten the unconditional sense of being. Pure colour surfaces in my images symbolise the emptiness of space. It shows us nothing but hinders our view of what lies beyond. When viewed from a higher dimensionality, there is no emptiness. Matter, relative emptiness – the space between the surface and absolute emptiness – emerge from the same substance.

Photography of the series "Manifold IV - Transit - No. 8", original size detail


The grain combines substantive with aesthetic symbolism in order to challenge on a sub-elemental level our perspective of everyday reality.

I regard reality as a pulsating apparition. To describe it in simple terms, our reality pulsates in very short cycles. It arises out of "emptiness", exists until its completion and disappears once more into "emptiness". The next reality sequence then follows, and so on. This takes place, however, within a complex interwoven process in which all states act simultaneously, presenting the appearance of a continuous presence within our familiar laws of nature.

I am seeking in my pictures to photograph the moment when the preceding pulse of reality has passed and its emerging form has not yet been fully formulated. Surfaces are not yet closed, focus is incomplete, colours are still developing and it seems as though the view would still be sufficiently open to look behind the mask of what we call reality. In superstring theory I have found both inspiration and a scientific reflection of my own imagination, although my thought process beyond that was totally undisciplined. According to the physicists Calabi and Yau, the phenomena which they discovered and named 11-dimensional "space-manifolds" are anchored four-dimensionally in "space" symmetrically at a distance of a Planck length apart.

In accordance with their thesis, there are, within each 11-dimensional "space-manifold", the four dimensions (three spatial dimensions plus a time dimension) which make up our three-dimensional world. I represent these 11-dimensional "space-manifolds" symbolically with the image of the grain in my b/w photographs.

Photography of the series "Manifold IV - Transit - No.10", original size detail

Aspect 3: ALLEGORY

In thinking about the pulsating nature of reality I found it plausible to ask whether there might be a communication structure in the universe. Considering this concept in more detail, I encountered the Calabi-Yau Manifolds which I have already mentioned which could, in my view, express complex reality from higher dimensions.

To illustrate my thoughts with a practical example, it may help to compare the screen of a TV or Smartphone with Plato's Allegory of the Cave, whereby the screen transposes our familiar three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional representation which simulates a three-dimensional world and, in turn, is located in a three-dimensional reality.

Even well-known mystically-charged terms such as "creator", "creature", "image of the Creator", "Light of Creation" etc. function in this small exercise as surprisingly plausible and totally unmystical concepts because we ourselves are watching the screen from the Creator's perspective. In this way I use these mystical terms also in order to facilitate recourse to models of religious explanation.

In thinking further about it, I realized that this two-dimensional screen image has to be considered from the three-dimensional world. In screen reality, however, it is not possible to see a two-dimensional image of one's Creator by looking out from the two-dimensional screen to the higher dimension. And, although they were created in the image of that Creator, they are "trapped" in a low-dimensional space with the illusion of higher dimensionality.

Similar to the prisoners in the cave depicted by Plato, the creatures represented in the screen-world take the low-dimensional representation to be the whole of reality. If only we could ask the cave- and the screen- people about this, both would maintain that their low-dimensional reality was the only truth. As people in the case of the screen world as well as in the case of the shadows on the cave wall are unquestionably the creators of those realities, this image can serve for us as a comprehensible way to visualise reality as experienced by us.

Should the screen creatures manage to look back in the direction from which they came, as Plato suggests in his allegory of the cave, the same would happen to them as to the people in Plato's cave and they would see an apparently strange shimmering whiteness.

However, the screen creatures can neither recognise themselves nor emerge from their screen world, as the people in Plato's cave could. They would encounter a maze of transformations which converts light into electrical signals and even electromagnetic waves.

A physical connection between the world of the Creator, our world and the world of screen-creatures does not exist. From the perspective of the screen creatures, the information from their screen-reality appears straight out of the air or from nothing at all, but in actual fact comes from a higher dimension. Here we are led by our mental image, viewed from the perspective of our own experience, to the idea of how a connection between a lower dimensional- and a higher-dimensional space might appear.

At the source of their appearance, the screen-people would not be able to discover any actual reality. Rather, they would find a luminous mask composed of three colours of light, a material universal matrix representing differentiated states, which would in turn be interpreted as substance-based because it is provided in these creatures' "script" and in the construction of the matrix. Even the shimmering white light would on closer inspection prove to be a multicolored illusion.

In a surprising way, the etymological origin of the word "screen" leads us to a fireplace. In the 14th century a fine mesh was positioned as a "fire-screen" to protect against sparks from the fireplace. Generations of "viewers" watched the fire, exchanged stories and gazed expectantly at the screen. The moving shadows and the dancing flames thereby enlivened their fantasies.

Plato's shadow-play of apparent reality which appeared so convincingly on the cave wall was also projected by the light of the fire. The "fire-screen" advanced in a unique evolutionary history from the shadow grille in front of the fireplace to the shadow mask of a cathode ray tube of a TV and thereafter to the tri-colour LEDs Matrix found today in every TV, smartphone or laptop. Many perceive such virtual reality as the actual reality of our present.

The big difference between my image and Plato's allegory of the cave is the open perspective of the viewer. Plato imagined a solid cave wall on which perceived reality was portrayed as a shadow play. I extend Plato's concept to the development of space in a higher dimension which eludes our insight and is seen by us as the deepest black or darkness (dark matter, dark energy). Even the people captured in the screen would, if they could look into a black void, raise their gaze to look in the direction of their audience. They would first see their own shadows on the screen wall and behind that they look in the direction from which they are seen by their creators.

If we hold this mental image once again carefully before our eyes our three-dimensional reality could even be caught between two higher-dimensional realities. From one side they would be produced and from the other side observed. Both directions by their nature evade perception.

Black and White - white for where we come from and black for where we are unable to go.

Photography of the series "Manifold IV - Transit - No. 1", original size detail


What we meticulously count as time, is vitally important in my images. I think time is lubricant from which synchronized reality slips. There is no other lubricant like time; it ripples reality with unpredictable consequences in the known universe, which may be expressed as rover black holes or the varying space/time continuum.

The grain in my black and white photographs symbolizes the matrix behind universal materiality, which creates many diverse conditions. My black and white photographs are not solely focused on the prosaic image which appears. Instead, the images relate to a metaphorical place associated with my physical and mental presence.

In her essay about photography, Susan Sontag writes that photography depicts a sinking world, and, because of this, there is no salvation. She also writes more about the death of the moment that is photographed.

I do not subscribe to this idea because it insinuates that photography is a process of reality that rips our eyes like a raging Formula 1 car away with it into the future.  In my black and white photographs, I strive to make our anticipation of future visible. It is only our imagination and emotions that construct this process for good or bad, life or death, success or failure. In my considerations I compare this process in two metaphors: “the romantic spectacle of pyromaniac fireworks of failure" and “the modesty of fulfilment."

Körnung Auge
Photography of the series "Manifold III - Three Times 15 Shades of God - No.17", original size detail (Church of the Resurrection / Jerusalem)


Photography requires the presence of the photographer. Because of this requirement, photography leads me through the world –through intercultural spaces – and provokes interpersonal actions in me which has helped me to find "the third equivalence”, which I believe to be connected with innate femininity. No other form of artwork requires the simultaneous presence of the artist and subjects in one place like photography. This is the reason I have chosen photography as one of my artistic expressions.

Henry Landers 2013

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