“I don’t like colour. The real factories that I love, they’re black-and-white experiences. Colour putrefies them… I really love the oil-impregnated earth, you know, where the earth is gleaming with black oil and there is steel and brick and glass and these machines, and smokestacks and the smoke and the fire. It’s an amazing, phenomenal thing.”
The Photographer’s Gallery are currently exhibiting a collection of David Lynch’s powerful, grainy, black and white photographs of factories. Accompanied by an ominous soundtrack of distant clanking and throbs, it makes for the kind of atmospheric experience fans of his work will be used to. The images retain all the hallmarks of his woozy, nightmarish aesthetic.
Having just watched Eraserhead and being in the middle watching of Twin Peaks, this exhibition makes a whole lot of sense as an insight to his view of the world and the sense of foreboding he creates. There is no sense of history or context, just an interplay of light, shadow and grime. As he says, “whenever there is darkness, the mind kicks in and creates your stories and mysteries”.
These aren’t the best images in the show.. it’s definitely worth going and seeing them in the flesh. This is an example of how the grain and texture of photographic prints are an essential part of the experience, one that is lost in seeing digital versions of the images. For the price of admission, you also get to see a floor full of William S. Burroughs’ photos and another floor of Andy Warhol’s. These gave an insight into each of their approaches but I didn’t think they were as focussed and insightful as the Lynch ones.