"The Ongoing Moment" - by Stefanie Young
It is not surprising to know that Stephen Piper is frequently on the road, scouting the perfect location for filming, or getting a sense of place to visually hold an idea. NICE PHOTOGRAPHS as a selection of his photographic images, has the eclectic licence of the traveller...not in any way that of the travel photograph, but in the way these images translate a moment of personal interest - photographing something that has 'caught the eye'.
Within this collection of photographs is a consistent attraction to the unusual or quirky within the most ordinary of scenes: Nice Chairs - a balanced line of worn-looking chairs colourfully arranged in front of yellow paint on the concrete wall, looking as if they have been party to many a conversation as they hold their place. Nice Bush also shares this style of poetic humour, with a foliage arch that has been trimmed and styled in a way that seems overly 'dressed and manicured' for the actual building it frames.
The symmetrical elegance of Piper's compositions belies the seeming ordinariness of the site - something that would usually go unnoticed has somehow been elevated in the mere act of being seen, photographed and looked at again as a photograph.
Piper's images hold the 'spirit' of the traveller as they traverse the moments that present themselves as we are in the world - and as a traveller might collect these experiences, memories, and moments along the way, this exhibition reads more as a collection, rather than a series, of photographs. Without a person in sight, the images of objects in locations act as monument to the living, as if each has its own story to tell within the uniqueness of its existence. Who are we to instil a hierarchy of importance to these stories?...no matter how ordinary it may appear at first glance, they all become extraordinary when told.
As mentioned of Alfred Stieglitz; "the photographer chances upon a scene that fascinates him. He longs to be part of it and finds a way both of recording the scene and including within it his vicarious representative, the participating observer." .
In the act of photographing that which, to him, 'raises a hand to be seen', Stephen Piper has included us in the scene, giving us also a chance to become a participating observer.
1. Geoff Dyer. The Ongoing Moment: p.149 Little,Brown. England. 2005