Antony Cairns, London, Science Fiction, computer cards, art, New York
Antony Cairns, London, Science Fiction, computer cards, art, New York
Antony cairns, Japan, computer cards, Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

Press Release

Antony Cairns (b. London, 1980) takes photographs at night, using the available light cast by

buildings in urban centers like London, Tokyo and Los Angeles. In many cases the structures that

he chooses are still under construction, little more than the skeletons of the office buildings and

luxury apartments of that they are destined to become.

His work is resolutely non-topographic, in the conventional sense in which photography has been

used to record spaces, structures and architectural styles. There is more, however, to Cairns’ work

than simply his distinctive approach to picturing the urban environment. His is a practice that

accepts and embraces the photographic medium in its sophisticated entirety: from the effect use of

light on analogue film, through a range of experimental darkroom processes, to an innovative and

highly specialized understanding of the supports available to the photographic image in the twenty-

first century.

In his work the artist reflects on the urban landscape by using techniques and technologies usually

considered obsolete such PXL2000 video cameras, computer punch-cards, and COBOL codes. This

recourse to processes and supports which date from many decades ago – which could be considered

a long time given the relatively short history of the photographic medium – permit Cairns to rethink and

rework individual images. In his practice, buildings, their facades, and commercial centers seem to be

surrounded or distorted by haloes of light that make them hard to “read” as structures.

Cairns presents his work in a number of complementary but contrasting ways: from painstakingly

layered and assembled artists books LDN (2010), LPT (2012), OSC (2016) to translucent films of

silver gelatin applied directly to sheets of aluminium, LDN2 (2013), LDN3 (2014) to experiments

with electronic ink, both in working electronic Ink readers, hacked to contain his complete work,

LDN EI, (2015) and on their extracted frozen screens; strange distant descendants of the

daguerreotype TYO2 (2017). Cairns was also the winner of the 2015 Hariban Prize, resulting in a

residency at the Benrido Collotype atelier in Kyoto. Once again faced with the possibility of

extending and expanding the photographic image through its reproducible character Cairns made

a series of interventions within, and interpretations of, the collotype process LA-LV, (2016).

Cairns has recently begun to explore the prehistory of the digital age in several related ways, by

printing his works and assembling them as montages on early computer punch cards OSC Osaka

Station City, (2016) and by using the screens of outmoded digital cameras and equipment to

screen and project his work. Cairns has exhibited and published widely, in Europe, the United

States and Japan. He lives and works in London.

To produce these images Cairns first takes a photograph or film, and then intervenes directly on the

resulting images, as in the case of the hand- coloured prints included in the exhibition. The aesthetic of

his work evokes the visual codes of science-fiction and futuristic writing. And if the human figure is

often totally absent from his cityscapes, it is perhaps here that Cairns questions our relationship to the

urban environment and the ways in which technology shaped our perceptions of it.


The photographs of Antony Cairns are included in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum

(UK), The archives of Modern Collection (UK) and the Library Collection of the Tate Gallery (UK)

and the modern Archives of Modern COnflict ; The George Eastman Museum (USA) .

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