Marcus Doyle, Rusty Truck, 2004-2005
Beauty, decay, nostalgia all feature in photographer Marcus Doyle’s exhibition at Margaret Street Gallery in central London
Commercial and Fine Art Photographer, Marcus Doyle
The Thursday By The Sea exhibition at the Margaret Street Gallery in central London. For exactly a year in 2004-2005, for months at a time on every Thursday, Marcus Doyle shot landscapes of a once thriving tourist area in California, The Salton Sea. Created by a flood from the Colorado river in 1905, by the 1950s the Salton Sea had become a popular resort, bigger than Yosemite National Park.
However the resort became less popular and the high salinity of the water made the atmosphere extremely corrosive. It’s a place where nature eats itself, and the man-made world surrounding it. Marcus Doyle’s large scale, atmospheric images, shot mainly in twilight due to the impossible heat at other parts of the day, blend the poetry of colour with the feel of official photographic documents of some catastrophe. Like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, the work has a decaying, iconic beauty.
What’s fascinating about the show is that Doyle’s images are all decisive moments, they all feel like clues to some shattering event, each image promises some insight into its desolation. Doyle is a very modern kind of surrealist, a surrealist of minor detail, the decrepit office chair perched in the foreground by a lake. An object from the world of work framed by Doyle’s rusted horizons of colour, a post-industrial still-life.
The work cuts across many current cultural and photographic themes, from the art world’s obsession with Ruins, a sign of our social fascination with accelerated change, with loss, to the wider Nostalgia trend (all themes that play into commercial imagery). Doyle’s work isn’t nostalgia for a particular past, for America’s boom years of the 1950s, but Nostalgia for the very idea of the past when our world is changing so rapidly. Doyle’s Salton Sea photos show that the past itself is disappearing, eaten away, like the Fridge (above) consumed by the heat, the salt, the sand.
Which Image? Which Room?
Don’t want to sound greedy but the Salton Sea is one of those shows where you would really need an image in each room of your house. Each image looms with an ominous significance. I would have ‘Bible’ in my dining room as a reminder to say a prayer that I will still be around when I finish my dinner.
I would remove my flat-screen TV from the Living Room and replace it with Doyle’s glowing, mystical, billboards where I would channel instead the strange energy source of those giant screens.
One question for the Image Maker?
When you were there, did these landscapes really feel as spooky, as ancient, as creeped-out as they look and feel? Or was that just your eye, your photographer’s mind that took control of visual possibilities of this landscape?
Marcus Doyle shows at the Margaret Street Gallery until 2nd January
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