Poetry News

A Broad Range of Luminosity: Aase Berg & HDR Photography

By Harriet Staff


An interesting piece at The Hairsplitter on Aase Berg's recent Black Ocean book, Dark Matter, translated and introduced by Johannes Göransson. Written by Ryo Yamaguchi, this one's "full hydraulic force" is compared to HDR photography:

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is actually a bit of a misnomer since most of it is really tone-mapped images—true HDR offers, in a single capture, a broad range of luminosity, the flowers in the shadow of the tree in perfect exposure alongside the delicate shadings of clouds in the sky, also perfect. We see, naturally, with our eyes, in a high dynamic range. But our natural range far exceeds the capabilities of most available cameras—so to achieve a greater range—a more natural one—most photographers “map” from different ranges across multiple low-range photographs, one where the flowers in the shade are lovely but the sky washed out, another dark beneath the tree but the sky rich, so forth. What you do, you see, is you make a hybrid. It’s the only way to do it.

I haul, I urge my dissolved substance, slowly forward across the metal of calm stones, the hovering thread-glue’s suction toward a point in the distant middle of the perspective. Where the river’s banks will meet and like the thinnest needle of silver of liquid will drill its dark tunnel-water straight in the heart of the dying image, this moistly broken-up surface of paper to which we cling.

Hybridity of light and dark. Silver and dark, these rivers. Everywhere in this collection Berg exercises an extraordinary range of luminosities. “The night sky wailed and exploded in fireworks and bursting particle heaps.” Rivers glitter, ore glows red-hot, there are the “dark blue opiates” and there is the “black deer bleat.” What’s more is the simultaneity of these luminosities. They do not dance; they do not vacillate—she presses them into a single image, sometimes a single word, in the above into a “paper,” really, a material. Materiality. Now aren’t we at something central, the title of the collection?

But the thing about the boundaries discussed above is that they are not, as we often think of, mostly conceptual, a line on a map, a one-hand-and-then-the-other, or even a wall to listen through. They are instead, and don’t you know this already, a torture. . . .

Read it all at The Hairsplitter.

At top: HDR from Rostadvann, Norway © Tor Even Mathisen.