Michael Carter grew up in London, studied at the Hatfield Polytechnic and the
University of Oxford, and has a B.A. in the Humanities and a Ph.D. in English.
These subjects have been influential in forming his particular interest in social
landscape. His concern has been to develop a true sight aesthetic.
This is a secular vision which does not incline towards the production
of idealized images of environmental states. There is no 'spiritual' impulse
in his photography or any intention to evoke or suggest anything 'mystical'
at work behind the visible world. The emphasis is on human practices and products
in a material reality, and the disclosure of meaning, resonance and beauty wholly
within and around the objects themselves.
Self-Shadow 1 Photography, Photograph
Typically he makes pictures in a style he terms expressive realism.
This defines a photography of places and things which stimulates
feelings and ideas through the symbols and associations of the world
as it is, rather than a reconstructed, directorial or edited
photography which produce images that are not actually a part of
a seen and shared external world.
The abiding theme within the range of his work is discord, incongruity
and adaptation. This theme is particularly conspicuous in his images of
Fleece Fields. The provocative way in which segments of English
landscape are periodically wrapped in plastics presents a kind of paradox
because plastics are being employed to protect and nurture the
organic world of crops and plants. The images are intended to disclose
this strange uneasy relation. They emphasize the dramatic and vivacious
forms these plastics often assume, yet present those aspects of the
traditional landscape which most serve to heighten the discrepancy
between the natural and the artificial. Approached in this manner they
may simultaneously arouse the outrage of a corrupted pastoral and
also a troubling recognition of its aesthetic appeal.
These images exemplify how difficult it has often become
to confront contemporary landscape in a simple, unitary, affirmative way, and how a
characteristic response is complex, disjointed and typically ambivalent.
This theme of discord, incongruity and adaptation within the image may come to
be associated with the feelings of reaction one has to the presence of the outsider
in society, and capture the sense of the intruder and the misplaced alien, or even
parts of oneself that are difficult to assimilate into the more public
and orthodox sense of who we are.
Since first showing his photography in Devon in 2005 he has held many solo exhibitions,
contributed to group shows and exhibited in numerous open exhibitions across the region.
His most recent solo collection Marking the Land was shown in collaboration with the
Weir Poets at the Ariel Centre Gallery, Totnes, in February, 2011. Examples of his
colour work were exhibited at this year's Photography Open 2 exhibition at the
Royal West Academy, Bristol.
His photography and ideas were featured in Art in Devon, Summer, 2006.
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