Wolfgang Tillmans – Freischwimmer – Similarities to the Underwater World

In Tillmans Freischwimmer, delicate strands of colour flow as if clouds of pigment in every direction. I looked at Tillmans work for its exhibition presentation strategy but these have a distinct aquatic feeling to them. The flow and spread of strands acts very much as if water flowing, hitting a surface or being distorted by obstacles underwater. Also the colours blend in the background in a gradient pattern, never in sharp lines just like the underwater scene. From my perspective and spending long periods underwater, I view these with the mind to relate them to long exposure underwater photography. The long tails of bubbles exposed in direct light under turbulent water, they are very similar except these are the negative version of the clear bubbles.

These c-prints in custom made frames that create a gap of depth between the edge of the frame and the print acts as a natural border. These prints are very large going by 181.1 x 238 cm in size showing off every tiny detail of the exposed photopaper.

Figure 1

I quite enjoy the type of frame used where the natural shadows of the frame create the edge of the photo border. We are so used to looking at printing websites where the frames are mostly still conventional with adjustable borders. This though creates depth to each print and changes how it is viewed each time the light changes, adjusting the border throughout the day.

Created through the use of a light pen to expose the tiny areas as if pigment this is very different to the usual photographic practice where no camera is used. This allowed Tillmans to work the image to his imagination, there is a great sense of drama from the free flow throughout the scene. Tillmans depicted lines working in harmony or separating in chaos from an explosion in a sea of colour. This is purely an art piece dedicated to enthralling the eyes with beauty, but is a great demonstration of colour, depth, filling the frame and presentation.

Being twice the size of a A0 print these would be EXTREMELY expensive to print, especially with a dark photo using so much black ink. They do command throughout a large gallery of other smaller photos and help with immersing into the image. Although with my current camera setup it would be pointless for closer details, even a medium format camera would struggle at these sizes but would best be viewed from a distance.

Freischwimmer #84

Figure 2


Figure 1 https://www.phillips.com/detail/wolfgang-tillmans/UK010619/42

Figure 2 https://www.phillips.com/detail/wolfgang-tillmans/UK010417/2

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