Marc Marnie



PHOTOGRAPHER Marc Marnie is best known for his portraits of musicians. Big, thoughtful black-and-white studies of Dizzy Gillespie, James Brown, Liam Gallagher, fermented in the dark room. All indications were that Marnie would hold out against the digital revolution for as long as possible, but crises have ways of changing things. A seminal body of his work was lost when his exhibition An Eye For Music was impounded by sheriff officers in lieu of council tax arrears and stored in damp conditions. When the damaged pictures were returned, he burned them in a quest for closure. Now, a more personal crisis has been the crucible in which a new way of working is forged.

OK Computer is Marnie, but not as we know it. These images are in colour and are digitally manipulated. Images are pulled and blurred, superimposed and peeled away, layered with messages, poems, sections of binary code. The title is like a challenge: Marnie has wrestled with the technology until it did what he wanted.

This is raw, personal work, but since it is full of ideas, it easily becomes something bigger. In one series, the subject of the black-and-white photograph, a young woman in a busy theatre lobby, is subverted by the fact that a man moving behind her is picked out in green. An ordinary face in the crowd, he breaks the spell between photographer and subject simply because it does not concern him.

Another shows patio furniture, musical instruments, in a cosy domestic circle, set loose on a background of rushing water, as life so often is, without warning. Words from poems and text messages weave and blur through the images, resisting our attempts to pin them down. Portraits shift and merge, as if it is as hard to photograph a face as to understand a soul. Behind them all thrums binary code, the heartbeat of the digital universe. This is a body of work about loss, but it is also about reinvention. The kind of art which sends tingles up the spine because it is so sincere.