CERN— the European Organization for Nuclear Research— is the largest physics experiment ever built, an endless attempt to recreate and thereby understand the conditions that occurred just after the big bang through analysis of massive amounts of data created by high-speed particle collisions. When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is running, 600 million collisions occur every second: 600 million reproductions of what we understand to be the beginning of the universe. Similar to the way in which particle accelerators constantly attempt to recreate and record the moments after the big bang, and create theoretical understanding of the invisible, Jeremy Bolen’s photography attempts (and critically self-undermines his own attempts) to create empirical documents that display the moment of image-creation and the environment that contribute to its conception. Operating in the realm of scientific images, with a strong grounding in American survey photography, Bolen’s work oscillates across the boundary between art practice and scientific research, troubling our belief in “the document,” whether photograph or a laboratory measurement, as a transparent and conclusive representation of a reality that we otherwise cannot access. Bolen creates ambiguously textured, ghostly photographs—often using site specific recording devices such as self-designed, multiple-lensed cameras—of normally hidden presences that make manifest how uncertain any method of visualizing the invisible is, and how dependent the resulting data is on the individual recording methods of different apparatuses. Bolen’s photographs live within the tension between the capturing of ephemeral phenomena and the fictions involved in representing anything at all.
Written by Monica Westin