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Ken Schles - Oculus

About images, memory and the metaphor of light

In OculusKen Schles takes us on a personal philosophic journey that points beyond the shadow-play of images. The exposition is a meditation on the nature of perception and existence in the gray light of this world. Alongside the exhibition, Noorderlicht has published the book Oculus. A photographic book about images, memory, and the metaphor of light.

We infuse the world we encounter with meaning, with social and symbolic significance based on the value we place upon representations we share. This, perhaps, is the irony of our conceptualizations: We make and share images so that we may know the world. But what exactly is the nature of our image representations? And what are the implications of using the metaphor of the image to signify, codify and describe a dynamic and ephemeral world?

Spurred on by private upheavals to reappraise the connections we have to images and memory, master photographer Ken Schles takes you with Oculus on a personal philosophic journey that points beyond the shadow-play of images. It is a meditation on the nature of perception and existence in the grey light of this world.

In Oculus, photographer Ken Schles brings us a moving follow-up to his acclaimed 2009 release, A New History of Photography. Schles trains his eye (and his pen) on an inward analysis, focusing on the connection between images, perception and memory.

With cogent prose and beautiful images, Ken Schles embarks on a compelling and personal exploration. Indeed, in this, perhaps his most seductive work to date, he is seeking to describe the source of awareness itself. 

Oculus is an original project that redefines the personal photographic essay; this is a book that looks deeply at the metaphors we make. 

Ken Schles and Noorderlicht

Noorderlicht is honoured to work with Ken Schles once again. Starting with Wonderland in 1999 - for which Schles delivered the poster image - Noorderlicht has gladly shown his work in various exhibitions, commisioned him for the project Promised Land and published his photographs in three catalogues and one photo book. (See archive on the right.)


What others said: 

"A poignant meditation on images and memory, Schles' book is as evocative as it is beautiful." Adam Bell, Photo-Eye

"...quite simply it's one of the best new photobooks I have seen in years: a towering accomplishment filled with aesthetic beauty and emotional depth. I can assure you this book will be a classic. ...it gave me chills from beginning to end." - Harper Levine, Harper's Books (Jury Selection Committee Member for Le Prix du Livre Paris Photo 2011).

"Schles invokes Nabokov's idea that memories are the brief separation between the soul's abyss before life, and after death. If these images are a collection of Schles's memories, he's shared them with us, not because we can ever touch his memories, or see them fully, or even understand them; but because we are human, and we can project our own meanings, our own memories." - GUP magazine

"Ken Schles' Oculus might send chills down your spine, if you let it. " Daylight Magazine