In The Last Moment (2011-2014) Simon Roberts uses techniques of scanning, layering, marking and masking to create stripped back, abstract images in which circles of various sizes float free in semi-transparent skies.
Much has been written about the huge number of photographs being produced daily on a global scale, of the changing role of the photographer and the constant need to document our lives and the world around us. It is within this social, technological and psychological context that Roberts has been producing this series of work. Using a precise formula, he scans published press photographs of key world events that he has collected from British broadsheet newspapers. The act of scanning the entire surface of the printed newspaper is a physical gesture and is followed by an act of mark making: every occasion in which someone is using a camera, whether a pocket-sized phone camera or professional digital SLR, is noted and then circled, so that only the device is visible.
The idea of transluscense, especially as it relates to optics and lenses, is central to the work. Roberts masks off the background, but not entirely, using a white layer to create a ghostly veneer – a negative space – patterned by different constellations of artificial disembodied ‘eyes’: each one a self-contained world. Translucidity is not only a visual aesthetic running through The Last Moment but is a metaphor for the various ways cameras function and are used in today’s global societies.
The title The Last Moment makes reference to the capturing of treasured memories once referred to as The Kodak Moment, and the recent demise of the American camera manufacturer which became synonymous with the development of amateur photography.