To discover that French photographer David Nissen has his background in cinematography comes as no surprise once you submerge yourself in his world.
Out Of The Darkness is Nissen’s third self published release and continues in the same dense atmospheric vein as its predecessors, although one noticeable metamorphosis that gradually takes place with each successive volume is the slow banishment of colour.
In his first book “Deep Night”, colour dominates.
Rich vibrant saturated hues are juxtaposed with more muted washed out tones. Monochrome is certainly in evidence, and beautifully so, but quietly and skilfully playing the supporting role.
With book two “Shapes Of Light “, black and white is on the rise, confidently stepping forward, whilst colour begins accept its charismatic new co-star and reconcile the fact that it is having to share the spotlight.
Still present, still with an integral part to play, but essentially a major star now with its popularity starting to wane.
Then triumphantly, comes this, the third release “Out Of The Darkness”, and the ascension is complete.
A new star is born, and the visual monochrome equivalent of Esther Blodgett is in full voice, whilst the now redundant muted hues of Norman Maine are consigned to the dressing room with his bruised ego and a bottle of vodka.
For the moment, just a memory.
Over the course of the three volumes Nissen’s cinematic eye is a constant, and has remained at the heart of the work.
Such is the skill exercised in editing that we have a definite sensation of gliding through a movie. Part of an effortless story board that takes us smoothly and silently into the deepest of noir.
Out Of The Darkness is a Billy Wilder road trip with its heart in the twenty first century. A contemporary rival to Nissen’s fellow countryman Chris Marker’s dystopian masterpiece, La Jetée.
As each page is turned our journey progresses and imagination allows dark and sinuous tales to unfold, all related in a dazzling display of technique.
Both high contrast and precision blur, blend and fuse together.
Direct unambiguous landscapes and surreal characters and figures evoke Japanese Provoke sensibilities and German expressionist cinema.
Breathtaking widescreen images of empty roads and cityscapes.
Flocks of birds silhouetted against angry storm laden skies.
Femme fatales exhaling plumes of smoke. Icy monochrome Bacalls playing their parts, anticipating the arrival of their modern day Bogarts, if such a man exists.
The delicious possibilities are never ending, as silhouettes move along twenty first century streets, casting shadows worthy of Murnau.
Is that a body dumped on a street, bound and left there as a warning?
Or a guy with his hoodie drawn tightly around his face just resting up?
A child in a summer dress wearing a hat skips away from us, all the way back to a Henry James novella.
And then as pylons and electricity wires lead away from the city, a final image of a silhouetted figure in the corner of an otherwise bright and luminous empty page.
Fade to white.
But like any passenger on a journey, what is seen from a window whilst the mind is relaxed and the power of dreams takes over, will be seen differently by his companions.
Imagination is an author’s most powerful tool, and to provide a narrative that not only invites, but insists on personal interpretation, is in many ways an indication of his genius.
Nissen is a master in this regard, and without the dark womb like incubator of the cinema to stimulate us at this current time, turning the cover of Out Of The Darkness is as tantalising as watching those red curtains part, and a screen flicker into life.
With all this mention of cinematic grandeur the final illusion of this book is achieved in its diminutive size.
The design of the book in itself is a coup de grace.
Open spine binding with embossed boards (every copy containing an original print affixed to the back end paper), it is no bigger than your average pocket book, but rather like Doctor Who’s Tardis, it manages to be far more expansive on the inside than its modest exterior aspect would have us believe.
Indeed it is the expanse of the views juxtaposed with the apparently modest dimensions of the full bleed pages that makes the book a triumph.
Make no mistake this is 70mm widescreen at its best.
And well worth the price of admission.
Out Of The Darkness is published in edition of 300 signed and numbered copies each with a 13x18 baryta quality silver print.
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