Fields & Visions & (Another World) (2022)
In this new body of work, Gersht returns to the botanical themes that have occupied him for so much of the last decade. The inspiration for this new work comes from the Swiss naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who travelled to Suriname (Dutch Guiana) in the 17th century and was the first artist to study and record native tropical plants and insects from that region, and the paintings of the American artist Martin Johnson Heade, who travelled to Amazonia in the 19th century in search of hummingbirds and exotic orchids.
Both artists returned with trophies and souvenirs from these newly discovered worlds and their subsequent paintings and drawings would depict new species of flora and fauna previously unknown to American and European audiences.
In so doing, they expanded our scientific and cultural knowledge of the world we live in and their artworks presented a new theatre of nature that exists far away in exotic and unimaginable locations.
Despite its convincing realism, their paintings and drawings reveal a fusion of fact and fiction, to create a unique and mysterious world that ignites our imagination.
To a certain extent, the way that Maria Sibylla Merian depicted and illustrates her subjects, bares a certain relationship to the way in which Galileo used the lens of his telescope or Leeuwenhoek the lens of his microscope.
All three discovered and revealed parts of the world that were previously invisible to the naked eye and in doing so, redefined our notion of the ‘real’.
Inspired by the pioneering efforts of these early explorers, Gersht’s new photographic works re-examine the relationship between artistic representation and the deceptive photographic claim of a single objective truth.
However, instead of travelling to remote places, Gersht has reproduced these exotic locations in his studio, bringing them to life with sudden violent disturbances to reinforce the authentic moment recorded by the camera.
Then, with the aid of artificial intelligence software, he enlarges the low resolution photographs, inviting the computer to fill in the missing information and reshape the images. In a sense, the software is required to use its acquired knowledge to reimagine the events and to present a new form of realism, fused naturally together.
The combination of the faithful trace of the optical lens in harmony with the computerised interpretation of the artificial intelligence, registers a shift in our concept of reality, as these photographs are no longer a faithful depiction of the physical subject matter.
The use of the artificial intelligence transforms the nature of photographic representation and this new part optical, part digital reality, presents a shift in the discourse of authentic photographic vision, as the artificial intelligence redefines our perception of realism and in so doing, detaches the photographs from a particular time or place.