Lamp in the Hand

Haptic images dance on the surface of the eye. Reflections of the physical world interact with the body to produce pre-conscious images, which live in the virtual realm of affect. The traces of such images are elusive, for the very process of identification produces a paradox wherein conscious recognition of the image causes its dissolution. Vancouver-based artist Graeme Wahn proposes a way through this paradox, outlining a method of looking, and of image-making, that illuminates the potential of the haptic image.

The Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope once famously walked through town carrying a lantern in broad daylight. When asked what he was doing, Diogenes replied “I am only looking for a human being.” This absurd act implied that humans had failed to live up to humanity’s potential for honesty. Lamp in the Hand, Wahn’s first solo exhibition in Toronto, presents images made in the artist’s own search for truth through absurdity. Here, Diogenes’ lantern becomes a metaphor for the entire photographic process. Wahn’s images show what the eye can already see in broad daylight; however, perhaps through a secondary light—such as the lantern or the camera—the viewer can glimpse the “honest truth” of the haptic image.