Ewa Hess

Hennric Jokeit

Why do you choose to work exclusively in photographic negative space?

Negative images do not coincide with the laws of vision with which our minds have been programmed.


The reverse contrast automatically results in an intensification of the processing of seeing. Since negatives are more difficult to perceive, they alter awareness, which in turn allows the images to be more deeply anchored in memory.


They lift themselves from the barrage of impressions that we are confronted with everywhere on a daily basis because we first have to come to understand them.

You are a clinical neuropsychologist and know how the human perception process can be influenced.

Specialised knowledge of neurology does play a role in my loyalty to the concept of the negative.


The realisation that it is about a technique of visual slowing does have something to do with my neuropsychological understanding of perception. 

What aspects of vision play a role in the process?

We assimilate 90 percent of information received via the visual system. It comes as no surprise that this system operates on a highly economical and efficient basis. There is a lot that takes place automatically.


In other words, a more in-depth processing of sensory perceptions will take place only then when these are new or if they can be classified as significant, either on an emotional or cognitive level. Otherwise, the majority of visual impressions get lost ‘undigested’ as it were and do not influence our behaviour in any way. 

Does the human brain registers certain images as “nothing new”, with our consciousness not acknowledging them?

Yes, and this “trop vu” phenomenon of having seen something once too often, presents a problem for photography. Photography photographs itself to death.


Our brain experiences the hundreds of thousands of photographs of the Eiffel Tower as redundant regardless of how technically sophisticated they may be or how spectacular the Baryte print happens to be.


Nothing detracts from the fact that it is the Eiffel Tower. It has become so deeply entrenched in our mind, devoid of the features that would make it unique. 

How does that work on a neurological level?

Contrast reversal allows phenomena to emerge that are contrary to expectation.


We are accustomed to having light come from above – now suddenly you have a shadow shining in a corner, light bursts forth from a window.


This tends to trigger verification processes in us and we quickly attempt to classify the image on a semantic level, so that it “fits”. 

© 2018 Hennric Jokeit Zürich

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