In Camera is an installation created around a series of 12 crime scene negatives made for Birmingham City Police Force during the 1930s and 1940s. Collishaw discovered these uncatalogued images, made to provide evidence in alleged and actual crimes committed in the city, hidden amongst an archive of orphaned police negatives whilst exploring the Library’s internationally renowned photography collections during 2014.
Extracted from their current, obscured institutional setting and detached from their referent case notes, in Collishaw’s new installation these unexceptional, transparent images become fluid, emotionally redolent and unsettling objects.
Intermittent flash bulbs expose the images printed in phosphorescent ink and incarcerated in translucent vitrines. The scenes glow eerily in the darkness, as if lit for forensic analysis. Mundane depictions of empty rooms become charged by the illicit acts implied. These human stains appear as violations of decency, images that commemorate transgressions, as with the act of capturing an image; where the light contaminates the photographic negative.
The work prompts questions about the medium of photography, its historical role as witness and the ways in which our reading of images are affected when they shift from the private to the public. Devoid of human presence, the works invite the audience to speculate about these backdrops; the identity of suspects and victims and the circumstances which led to the crimes being committed.