|a radiant turret lit by the midsummer midnight sun|
Made during the first Australasian Antarctic expedition, 1911-14
I think I find Hurley's work more interesting because it seems more varied and often, more intimate, showing details on a human scale. There are of course many wonderful and breathtakingly beautiful images of ice landscapes by Hurley that display grandeur and are intended to create a sense of awe in the viewer, such as in the image above, but his pictures often also seem to contain details that pleasingly undermine this distance from the subject, or which manage to convey some of the physicality of place that can be difficult in the stilled form of the photograph.
|Out in the blizzard at Cape Denison adjacent to winter quarters, 1913, Carbon print|
scientific/heroic/pictorialist basis to the creation of the picture (unlike most of the others) and the purpose of the image remains unclear. (I'm guessing that perhaps a snow hole has been dug, with the occupants' artificial light illuminating the entrance, but it's still significantly obscure to continue to intrigue and hold my attention).
The image below is perhaps more conventional, but still I like the presence of the man, looking out to the ice, Caspar David Friedrich-like. With his hands in his pockets, and wearing a balaclava but no coat, braces visible, he stands so very casually as he surveys the ice and the unending immensity of the cold horizon beyond. He looks as though he might just have been passing by for a stroll when Hurley made the picture. Perhaps he was.
He also made a series of early colour images of the Expedition using the then-popular Paget process of colour photography. The colours are rather weak, and the autochrome process would supersede it, but it still comes as something of a shock to see them at all. Even it's failures hold beauty.