Jason Nocito: Everywhere and Nowhere

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from the series Les Cornes du Silence

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from the series I Heart Transylvania

It’s a common assumption that photography can tell stories, or that some necessary relationship between images goes to create and sustain a narrative. But that interaction still has a significant degree of mystery to it, because even as the dynamic process of putting photographs together can ‘add up’ to a story, when compared to other forms it becomes clear that the experience is of a very different sort. The narratives that can exist in photography (or, at least between photographic images) demand a far more open – if no less precise – arrangement that means we can enter into the story at virtually any point. Looking at I Heart Transylvania then, we might imagine that Jason Nocito works by a kind of slow accumulation, testing the diverse effects proposed by each of these tentative formal relationships.

Seen together these images conjure up a passage through some imagined territory, at once everywhere and nowhere, a place that can exist only in the narrative created by the photographer. These traces of memory then become the experience itself, an inventory of fragments and chance encounters, each with a discrete, but fundamentally open-ended significance. While the pictures concern themselves with edges and boundaries, those moments of hesitance or indecision that occur between actions – Nocito’s particular kind of close observation – their aggregate is sprawling, exploratory and multifaceted, with occasional lapses into baffling juxtaposition. It is the context provided by the images together that ultimately lends meaning to the narrative, which is more than just the sum of the pictures – rather, that is the story itself. Nocito works through a fluid set of positions within this conditional structure, never coming to rest definitively on any one of them.

By contrast, the tone of Les Cornes du Silence is far darker and much more elliptical, with an aggressive edge that seems at times to be almost wilful in refusing to elaborate on what connects the images together. This work is hermetic, and yet also disturbingly exact in how the individual pictures are seen; they have an acuity that undermines the question of meaning as a simple extension of what is being depicted. Here the attention of the photographer (and the agency of the camera) finds unexpected contingencies within the visible. Of course, it might seem obvious to say that something photographed is understood in a necessarily different way than how it is when merely seen, but the aspect of that difference Nocito explores here is the capacity for estrangement inherent to photography: a shift in emphasis whereby the familiar becomes unknown – or, indeed, unknowable.

Perhaps these pictures are about finding a sort of compressed poetic intensity within the everyday, fragmentary glimpses of a much larger (and often quite inscrutable) narrative about how we encounter the world. In that sense Nocito’s story here is a microcosm of his lived experiences, complete with its ellipses and dead-ends, that does not seek to resolve a handful of specific encounters into anything other than what they are, revealing instead the plain mystery of what – and how – we see.

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from the series I Heart Transylvania

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from the series Les Cornes du Silence

jasonnocito.com

Written by Darren Campion / Published 9 April 2013