Jacob Black

From February to March 2023 UK-based photographer Jacob Black is an artist-in-residence at Studio 88. He is participating in Studio 88’s special AiR We Breathe programme as part of the Art for Air Festival. Jacob is a photographer, digital operator and darkroom technician who lives and works in London.

Through a passion for the social sciences and lens-based documentation, Jacob completed a BA in Politics and an MA in Photojournalism. Jacob has carved out a diverse career in the highly competitive creative and visual arts, contributing images and text to multiple digital and print media and exhibiting personal work with photo groups such as Lensculture and RPS. 

Jacob Black, Untitled 07

Working in both analogue and digital, Jacob explores ideas of land and environment, drawing on myth and the human connection to personal surroundings and habitats. Jacob’s work is often informed by the ambiguities within the photographic medium, exploring how darkroom abstractions and digital manipulation can create a narrative in different forms of documentary storytelling.

In 2022 Jacob exhibited work in London, Rome and New York and his project Forget Me Not was the winner and jury selection for Lenscultures 2021 B&W awards The Royal Photographic Society Autumn collection and the Tates book collection Solar Journal 2022. Day to day, Jacob works as Digi-op and Photographer for commercial studios in London, tasked with creating saleable and innovative projects for large and independent brands.

Jacob Black, Untitled 08

Jacob has been working in Indonesia researching the topic of air pollution and its implications on personal and environmental health. He finds the idea of air pollution completely fascinating and scary – it seems like a silent monster we can’t always see or make tangible in our mind but one that affects so many. He seeks to explore the idea of tangibility and how artists make ideas physical and how these works can be an effective tool in the fight for environmental survival. 

During the residency Jacob will develop work that uses the camera as if it was a resident of the city of Chang Mai, to invite and place ‘air pollution’ into a film camera. He looks to explore the hills and farmlands around Chang Mai, collecting physical samples of slash-and-burn fires and then adding and dropping them into the camera, then making the journey back to the city, constructing visual recordings of the everyday and mundane.

Jacob Black, Untitled 01

The pollution in the camera will make the same journey from the upper farmlands to the city as it does through the air collecting physical and spiritual significance. The work will use a film camera and 120mm film, allowing the pollution to imprint itself onto the physical aspect of the film and the camera itself. As the work progresses the camera and its mechanisms may stop working becoming infected with air pollution particles and debris. The images may become overlapped, or obscured, the film may get stuck, or the lens may be covered entirely. In this respect, the film negatives and camera will constantly be in collaboration and in conflict with the physical and visual effects of air pollution.

Read more about Jacob’s work here