In his photographic series Whiteout, Geert Goiris explores the visual consequences of an unforgiving landscape: the Arctic. These images give the eye very little to latch onto, recalling the effect of snow blindless — also known as photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis — a painful condition that comes from unprotected eyes being exposed to too many ultraviolet rays. Our eyes begin to search the photo for the slightest of colour shifts so that we may at last resolve the image. Dark forms seem to cut the image abruptly while any suggestions of depth fade away.
Goiris’s work is accompanied by a short memoir titled Whiteness Report, in which he describes the rather fearful experience:
“Due to the incessant and totally uniform stimulation, my eyes were exhausted. I saw starts, and strained to surmise at least something of the trail in this luminous haze…The total absence of a horizon tricks you into wildly distorted perspectives. Suddenly we spotted two birds right in front of us, surprisingly, because we had left the coast far behind by now and on this plain there was nothing that could serve as food. We gazed at the stark white birds and when we came near they both took to the air. It took K and me a few seconds to realize that only one of te birds was actually flying. The second ran away flapping its wings, its movements betrayed it was still on ice…Light diffusion was perfect: wherever you looked brightness was equal. Front, back, up or down had lost their meaning. Only the men and the vehicles were present, everything around has ceased to exist.” (Goiris, 2009)
See more of Geert Goiris’s work here.
- Erin Saunders