MARK VAN DEN BRINK: Stills & Stones
|Mark van den Brink
|Stills & Stones
|14,8 x 19,6 cm
Photographer Mark van den Brink (1965) moved into a new Amsterdam studio at Pakhuis Wilhelmina in 2004. His third-floor space is on the Veemkade with views of the river IJ. Light from the northwest streams through a square skylight and can be filtered by slightly cracking the window open or closing it somewhat. Van den Brink spent years on the road – often behind the wheel of his Chevy Van – as an inconspicuous voyeur, capturing the world around him with a Minox camera. Occasionally, he would mount his miniature camera onto binoculars or a telescope. Now, however, he felt it was time to put the Minox to work shooting still lifes for the first time. It started with a stone. He took a hefty rock, bigger than his fist, and set it on a stool the way a sculptor might position a fresh lump of clay on a pedestal. No flash, no extra lights: the photographs relied solely on daylight. For the background, he suspended a canvas tarp. And to focus, he needed a tape measure on hand. Split-second, casual shots from a comfortable angle? All the advantages of the Minox went out the window. The subject matter forced him to adopt a new strategy. All the obligatory, labor-intensive operations required for heavy and unwieldy tripod-mounted technical cameras that he’d thrown to the wind were now the new rule for his spy camera. He stuck with the Minox because he was intent on preserving the coarse grain of his printed photographs, which had a similar feel to the surface of frottages and autochromes. Because Minox film rolls were far too expensive, van den Brink cut his own film to size. Once his custom film roll was ready, he would first snap a few test shots of something else to ensure he’d installed it properly. Often, he would then quickly point his camera at the skylight or even at his newborn son, Jochem, who lay obliviously asleep in his bassinet.