Metal Mirror


Notes on the Metal Mirror

Since 1983 he has worked on several distinct series of photographic works collectively entitled The Chromosomic Memory.
Central to this body of work is the artist’s desire to arrive at a philosophical understanding of his subject matter.

The object – be it a coin, a tombstone inscription or a mediaeval clock – is transformed by time and deterioration,
and undergoes a process of metamorphosis that can, potentially, reveal its essential being.
It is this manifestation that Sack documents in the subsequent photographic image.

Whereas the archaeologist and the historian must give a scholarly interpretation of artefacts and events,
Sack sifts through the detritus of history finding rich aesthetic possibilities and symbolic significance in the material he discovers there.

.                                                                                     Brendan Moore, The Metal Mirror exhibition curator, British Museum


Raiders of the (almost) lost art 

A photographic exhibition of ancient coins at the British Museum has become a surprising source of controversy, mystery and, above all, beauty. 

The Metal Mirror, is the result of an 18-month collaboration with the curatorial staff at the British Museum’s Department of Coins and Medals. Its presentation in conjunction with the department has attracted some controversy, because, the coins that Sack has chosen to photograph are precisely those spurned by professional numismatists, art historians and collectors on account of their poor state of preservation. They are mostly ancient, and all of base metal (mostly bronze) which has oxidized over centuries of burial, producing strange encrustations and richly coloured patinas.

Using macro photography and sophisticated lighting, Sack has produced a series of 25 colour prints, up to a meter square. Photographic technique is subsidiary to artistic intent, though the technical quality of these prints – some of them at magnifications of up to 100 times -is superb. So vivid are the colours that many visitors assume that they must have been enhanced by the use of filters or computer manipulation, but this is not the case. The colour fidelity is astounding; the fiery reds, acid greens, indigos and subtle ochres are the entirely natural results of the oxidisation of the metal, viewed in microscopic detail. The images are cropped close so that the edges of the coins – and in most cases the inscriptions – are not visible, and Sack has resisted pressure to label the prints or to display the original coins, on the grounds that such information might inhibit the viewers’ imaginative response (although details are given in the catalogue).

.                                                                                                                                                                                               Chris Schuler


Coins, Earth and Time

The beauty of the images no longer reside in the art of the coin’s maker, or it’s historic or monetary value.
From the moment of the coin’s creation, and through it’s use and abuse, loss and one might say inevitable death – forgotten and buried,
only to  be resurrected centuries later, the coin, now transformed by Earth and Time, has potentially developed it’s magical qualities.

Even the mere act of holding it can inspire feelings of some indefinable medium to the past.

 .                                                                                                                                                                  Maurice Lapin