Michael John Whelan
Video/Film
Photography
Objects/Actions
Paper/Sound
Text/Bio
Contact
News
1991
And they did live by watchfires
Nocturne
Untitled
Darkness had no need
These last breaths
In the black dark for good
Carapace
That we were to wait
Like force and matter
Only in
Lupus
20 Vertices, 30 Edges
and 160 Diagonals

In Embers (Dodecahedron)
Dune
Transit of Venus
Over the echoing gateway
Stars/Star
Shadowplay
Archway (diptych)
Darkness had no need
2017-ongoing
framed chromogenic prints, 122 x 152cm
installed at Nocturnes, Grey Noise, Dubai (2020)
(1/7) Next




This long-term project explores the darkest locations in the world through large format photography. Certified by different organisations through strict light measuring procedures, these sites provide the best conditions for viewing an unimpeded night sky. Predominantly used by astronomers, these sites are selected for their distance from centers of urban densification. The necessity of these measures is solely triggered by anthropogenic factors.

Since 2017, Whelan has been travelling regularly to these dark sites across the world, focusing specifically on the places themselves. Directly connected with overpopulation, errant light pollution mortally affects migrating birds, fish, bats and sea turtles and is a contributing factor in the decline of insect populations, and consequently invaluable ecosystems. It disrupts the human cicada rhythm, leading to significant physical and psychological problems that are only just beginning to be understood. Photographing the places at night, using a large format camera with long exposures, the base chemistry of the film records traces of light that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. Inherent in this project is a gesture of impossibility: How can the immaterial be captured? How can absence be recorded? How can darkness itself be recorded on film? Only traces of the landscapes become visible. The uncanny lack of detail in these large-scale images is captivating - absence becomes presence. The project challenges the limits of photography, the minimal aesthetic of the images creates an unsettling contrast to the subject matter.