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5 July 2013

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Optic nerve

What happens inside your mind can happen inside a camera is a line I wrote as a copywriter for a camera account when I decided to become a photographer in 1970. For more than forty years now, an opposite principle has also held true in all of my work: what you see happening in my photographs happened in front of the lens. There is no manipulation of the image of any kind even though my imagination can pre-visualize a thousand possibilities. For any idea to succeed it has to be anchored in the reality of the moment of its making.

Thus, with the unmitigated trust that my camera is very capable of making the image while I face the lens and squeeze the bulb release, I have come to understand a duality of functionality in my process. I want to utilize what I have learned in a lifetime of seeing to discover compositions my eyes have yet to set upon. The optic part of the process has always come to me from the masters. They’re all up there on the library shelves in every room of the house, the whole history of our medium from Atget to Van Der Zee.

Then comes the flip side of the coin, now spinning on the floor: the nerve part. That’s the inventive side of the task; the responsibility I share with my camera to wrestle from reality new sparks of spontaneity and unique visual impossibilities.

Art is risk made visible. It’s my philosophy of vision. Or perhaps it is also this: I think, therefore I see; I see, therefore, as Descartes would have it, I am.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.