«Is it time for humanity to give way to something different, something that will flourish on the ruins of our world?»


In «Transformation», Marine Smith has experimentally modified the algorithm of processing a digital signal, allowing the camera to evolve into co-author of the images. The result combines abstract emotional impact with reflection on possible scenarios of future not dictated by humans. Here, Smith approaches and subverts photojournalism, documentary and humanitarian photography, which lean towards the diversity of the world, with humans at the centre of this diversity, believing they are ultimately in control of it…

Monochrome land and cityscapes give no clue of where exactly they were taken; lacking landmarks, geographic and time-bound markers makes them universal, common. In stark visual contrast, each and every photo offers some form of luminous orange. The orange may appear in clouds, tree branches, patches or speckles of light in windows; sometimes it populates a substantial area of the image, other times it is barely noticeable.

No matter its position, form and scale, this intense colour permeating the muted, humdrum scenery means to evoke anxiety. The colour of fire might appear as a metaphor or an omen of apocalypse, yet Smith’s images move beyond blanket anxiety and dread, showing us a more complex version of  «reality» and possibility. Rare people in the photographs don’t appear to feel the suspense. And these parts of the living world, flooded with orange light, look unusually different, but remain recognizable.

Mixing common, everyday life with varying amounts of this bright catastrophe gives us a simple truth: the apocalypse is already here. We may die in it, but we do manage to live in it. 

And so there is an unexpected peace in the dystopia — a peace in the inevitability of our destruction, which will be the destruction of our proud, mostly homogeneous buildings and our trees planted in lines at the edges of parks and cropped fields — it will be the destruction of our civilisation, and Smith captures this civilisation with love, while taking it gently down from its pedestal, asking, amid so many questions, 

Is it time for humanity to give way to something different, something that will flourish on the ruins of our world? 


Text by Ilia Philipenko, photography curator, co-founder of F11 gallery
Edited by Kit Griffiths