Harry Gruyaert / Steidl / softcover, 2012
More than thirty years have passed since Magnum veteran Harry Gruyaert exhibited his TV Shots at the Delpire Gallery in Paris. Met with incomprehension at the time, it now seems that critical opinion is finally swinging his way.
Gruyaert’s subject – back in the early 70’s – was television, photographed at the moment of its ascendancy when radiant colour began to replace monotone black and white. TV Shots comprises a series of stills from sitcoms, dog shows, news bulletins and movies, ad breaks and interviews; Come Dancing and the Apollo flights; Coronation Street and the Olympic Games. The result is a sustained barrage of shockingly inconsequential visual noise in which moon landings and terrorist attacks are served up alongside game shows and costume dramas. The artificiality and vapidity of the content is underscored by Gruyaert’s jarring distortions of the stills themselves.
“Where I was staying in England I had this very crazy television set; and I found I could do something very interesting with it by fiddling with the colours and by cropping into the screen”, he explains. “I had an assistant adjusting the antenna and, while I was moving back and forwards towards the screen, I‘d say “Stop, stop…that’s it”. The moments when he said “stop” were those instants when the TV picture and the welter of distortion and interference hung in a precarious balance. - Photo8