In The Frame: Dots of Orange – Alan Phelan

Posted July 1, 2021 in Photography


In The Frame

Dots of Orange

Alan Phelan

“This photograph is one of the most abstract I have ever made. Despite appearances, it is a Cartier-Bresson decisive moment.

It may give all the visual cues for Op Art, with geometric spatial illusions and colour vibrations, but if you look, you will see a net bag of oranges.

They dangled against a wire glass window, taped up precariously with gaffer tape. The starting reference point in making the photograph was, however, when John Baldessari threw balls in the air, mocking that decisive moment for something less melodramatic.

The intersections of colours, lines, and circles do create an optical treat, like an out of whack test sheet or a cutting board with spotlights of coloured discs. The layered Joly screen technique I used makes for strange photographs that wobble.

They change colour in person, in real life – tricks of light, analogue trickery. They seem somewhat anti-photography; not snappy, but certainly decisive as they need so much planning as well as serendipity.

Wayne Koestenbaum might describe these dots of orange like a goldfish caught in headlights, or find something scrotal in my nets, or manifest an allusion in perfume. Orange green in French is my favourite fragrance, if this photograph were to smell, it would be of that. Smell lingers for a while, images don’t tend to anymore, they are gone in a flash or a swipe.”

Words and Photograph: Alan Phelan

New photographs by Alan Phelan will on show at PhotoIreland Festival, Rathfarnham Castle, from 1-30 July.



The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.


National Museum 2024 – English


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.