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An uncertain exchange I & II



Simone Douglas


1966 -


Simone Douglas uses photography to encapsulate the intangible and reveal the space between memory and consciousness. Most of her work during the 1990s was concerned with what she calls ‘aberrations’: the things that are absorbed but not instantly recognisable.1 These are the spaces of absence and the indescribable areas where unrecalled memories lurk. In conceptualising these aspects Douglas’s images emulate peripheral vision, an intention at odds with the accepted verisimilitudes of photography. Yet Douglas uses this understanding of photography to theoretically highlight the visual phenomenon of half-light and its cognitive relationship to uncertainty.

Douglas often works with photograms and carefully manipulates her images in the darkroom in order to achieve specific effects. In her words: ‘I really do work with light a lot in the darkroom. I see it more as a process of painting, I guess, rather than pure photographic work, or a direct translation from a negative. It’s … a combination of things.’2 Douglas’s images bring into play the viewer’s wish to define and understand what can be seen and the impossibility of this. ‘An uncertain exchange I & II’ describes this experience, the title itself referencing the interplay between viewer and image and the elusive nature of what is represented. In this diptych, of one pale image and the other dark, Douglas’s manipulation of colour, tone, depth of field and focus takes us to the imaginary and the immaterial – to a space of sublime contemplation.

1. Charity R 1994, ‘Aberrations’, The Photographers Gallery, Aug/Sep, London
2.Cavenett W 2000, ‘Simone Douglas: an uncertain exchange’. See Accessed 03.03.2000

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007




Media category


Materials used

diptych: 2 RA4 colour photographs on aluminium




2 photographs: each 150.0 x 100.0 cm image; 167.5 x 118.5 x 9.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. verso [a], ink ".../.../...1996 Simone Douglas" and u.r. verso [b], ink "...1996/.../.../ Simone Douglas".


Gift of the artist in memory of Dr Phillip Kent 2004

Accession number


Artist information

Simone Douglas

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Natasha Bullock, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - place', pg.288-311, Sydney, 2007, 303 (colour illus.).

Linda Michael, Photography is dead! Long live photography!, Sydney, 1996.