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Object: The terrace

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Title The terrace
Production Hipkins, Gavin (photographer), 2008
Medium summary colour photograph, inkjet print
Materials ink, paper
Classification colour photographs, inkjet prints, works of art
Technique digital imaging, colour photography
Credit line Purchased 2008
Registration number O.031424/A-L

In The Terrace 12 photographs go together to make a single, indivisible work. Each consists of a black and white image of a thermal area near Rotorua over which is superimposed a colour photograph of one or more dressmaking buttons.

This technique of layering images is something Hipkins has explored before, most notably in ‘The Sanctuary’ series, where he placed pieces of lace and other fabric on top of scenes from around the world. The effect in each case is to create an inexplicable intrusion of semi-abstract images into an otherwise everyday pictorial photograph.

In The Terrace the buttons might be read as alien spacecraft, hovering over the images. This fits with the commonplace description of thermal regions as alien, lunar or unearthly, and recalls a long tradition of fake UFO imagery. But while UFO photographs seek to convincing integrate spacecraft and background scenery, Hipkins puts his effort into producing images that are plausible in some non-literal way. His colours are muted and his choice of black and white for the background has an abstracting effect in this age of ubiquitous colour. At the same time as he disrupts and confounds conventional photography he produces a visual reality with its own logic.

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