Stephen Healy: Ethereal
Streetlevel, Glasgow, until Sat 22 Mar
The large photographs by Stephen Healy at Streetlevel continue his interventions into remote locations, in the form of sculptural installations, site-specific artworks and photo-based projects. This exhibition falls into the latter category, with six images that demonstrate how natural landscapes can be transformed into otherworldly settings.
The photographs have been created by shining powerful light sources into waterfalls, rivers and lochs, so that the water takes on the appearance of pools of lava, light sabres and underwater scenes lit by alien technology. Many of the images are superficially attractive, but seem to be bereft of any tangible theoretical depth. This in itself is not a problem but the sense of intrigue and wonder that the images attempt to evoke (as glimpses of heavenly light on Earth) wears off very quickly. Maybe this is the photographer’s intention: heavenly light finally fades and the power of a miracle passes. We could also say that the work continues the druidic and pagan belief that rivers and pools can be used to give us access to other dimensions, and that these stage-lit sets act as gateways, whether in an ironic sense or not. The most successful image (of the photographer’s garden at night time) demonstrates that there don’t need to be fairies at the bottom of the garden for photography to magically transform it into something uncanny.