Noemie Goudal is an unusual combination. She is a photographer—but one who specializes in installations. She engages with expansive, worldly phenomena (both natural and man-made) but creates works that drift into our imaginations. In short, she has established herself at that delicate intersection between reality and fantasy where so much great art is made.

While Goudal is inspired first by our interactions with the world, her works take us on flights of fancy, as she creates “photographs and films that, wherein close proximities of truth and fiction, offer new perspectives onto the photographic canvas.” If this all sounds a bit abstract, Goudal’s latest project, Southern Light Stations makes her preoccupations a bit clearer.

The project is an investigation into the way people viewed the skies before the telescope. The photographs presented are a range of sea- and sky-scapes, each encapsulating an aspect of human curiosity. Despite our generous advances in science, her enthralling visions show us enduring characteristics of our relationship with the vast natural world: curiosity, awe and exhilaration.

In some images, black hanging spheres and blacker backgrounds explore early, primitive views that the sky was an imposing roof above the Earth. Others allude to Copernicus’s extroverted fascination with the sky and the wider universe through the composition of wide blue seascapes, large orbs and remote light stations.

The majority of images focus on a central circle or abstract monument. The focal point of our curious eyes is held, enticingly, by a massive object that hangs in the frame thanks only to the flimsy support of delicate string. These embedded structures reveal a telling relationship between mankind and mother nature: our irrepressible imagination leads us to actively recreate and replicate elements of the world around us but at the same time, our insignificant creations are dwarfed by the true expanse of the ever-expansive natural world.

These photographs resound with dreams and creativity, yet also a sobering degree of reality. By exploring our relationship with the endless skies above, we are reminded of our fertile imaginations, our distant evolution and our humble, tiny—yet beautiful—place in the universe.

—Ben Dickenson Bampton


Ben Dickenson Bampton is a writer and photographer from Bournemouth, England. To read more of his writing, be sure to visit his blog at bendickensonbampton.tumblr.com for reviews on photobooks, exhibitions and photography events around the world.