All Aboard for Destination Dub
Visual artist Ben Jones talks us through his new exhibition
The devil is in the detail and the detail is at Destination Dub, an exhibition by visual artist Ben Jones.
Jones' prints take a lingering look at parts of cities such as Berlin, Cologne, and our own Belfast yet there are none of Dublin, so why the name?
'I've flown out of Dublin, like many people, a lot of times, and I've always liked the phrase "Destination Dub". It seems more than the name of a destination. I'm trying to create an idea that it's a destination dubbed together of different ideas, different journeys and different images.'
What is the fascination with tyre tracks and doorbells, fences and table lamps? After all, these are exactly the things we pass every day.
'What I'm doing with the pieces is taking very ordinary surface areas and urban landscapes and creating something with those layers. Some of the pieces are about surfaces and some are about feelings of space. It's very much about responding to space in urban environments.
Within cities there are spaces appearing and disappearing. I'm trying to capture some of those spaces before they disappear.'
Many of the pieces are simply named after the place captured by the camera. Those familiar with Belfast will recognise names like 'Newtownards Rd' and 'Deramore St'. But what has caught Jones' eye may be very different from the personal view of others.
In the image 'Newtownards Rd' the artist has captured a view of one of the Harland and Wolff cranes through a small makeshift window in a corrugated iron fence. The image itself could be a metaphor for what has motivated the exhibition.
'Photography for me is about ways of looking, ways of seeing. Not about how technically photographs are taken. A lot of these photographs are about looking at spaces in a very direct way.
'It's like I'm thinking about something at the time and looking at it in a certain way and then I want to be able to capture that in the way I'm thinking about the space as I'm standing in it.'
The images are interesting not just because of the vantage point from which they are taken. One, 'Martin', shows the entrance to an apartment block in Berlin. Each doorbell lists the occupant's name. The contrast between the names and the different ways they have been presented is stark.
The building would seem to be home to a wide variety of people who are living very different lives.
Despite the fact that the images are without people, by focusing on the urban landscape it's impossible to ignore the hand of man. Though unpopulated there is still a very human quality to the images.
As Jones records his reaction to the space I am curious to other people's reaction to him as he invades their territory, harmless as his intentions may be.
'I quite often get very strange looks and people stop and stare at me. People always get very suspicious when you take a camera out. I have been shouted at a few times.'
Perhaps it is the seemingly banal nature of the subject matter that arouses suspicions. People feel an ownership of their area and are curious when someone takes an interest in something that they take for granted. In changing the space Jones is changing their reaction to it.
'It's funny how people react when you are around with a camera. It's actually quite a powerful tool.'
In his work as an artist Jones has employed many other tools. He also works with film and music. He considers that his work in different media has impacted on each of them.
'I started out in photography, that's where my roots are. I suppose this is going back to that. There's a huge influence of my photographs on my filmmaking and maybe vice versa. I think its come full circle now. A lot of these photographs are, to me, quite cinematic.
'Now I'm taking what I've learnt in filmmaking and bringing it back into photography so theres a huge crossover there.'
It is this combination of skills that the artist believes has given him a different view of the everyday, and the ability to see something interesting in the very ordinary.