Peter Mathis: A Portrait, Tom Dauer
Extract from the book
... Let’s carry out a thought experiment. Let’s imagine a snow crystal, one of those wonderful structures that arise in some cloud or other at a temperature
below the freezing point. Water vapour has collected around a particle of dust, a spore or a bacterium. It is so cold that water molecules do not remain liquid around the condensation nucleus,
but crystallize immediately. More and more molecules join together. Crystals grow and grow in a way that diminishes their mutual repulsion and increases their mutual attraction as much as
possible. This creates the many beautiful symmetrical forms in which snowflakes fall to earth from the sky. On this journey they are blown to and fro by the wind, collide with other snow
crystals, are diverted and redirected, pass through layers of warmer air, and sooner or later drift gently down to the ground. Here they lie, and become part of a greater whole, enveloping the
mountain landscape and shaping it, bringing out the contrasts.
It is no surprise that Mathis, who has dedicated himself to black-and-white photography, loves snow. Snow lends structure to the landscape. So does the right light,
for which the photographer often waits for hours, perhaps freezing and shivering, because it is winter. The wait is usually worthwhile, however, as the snow and light create compositions that
could not arise in any other combination.
If we were now to follow the path of the snowflake backwards, from the end to the beginning, we could clearly identify causes and effects. We could say precisely
why, when and where the snowflake took one particular path and not another. When, however, we arrive in the cloud in which the snowflake was once created, none of this remains clear and
unambiguous, because we realize that there is an infinite number of possibilities for the direction and destination of the moving snowflake. In other words, the fact that Mathis is regarded as
one of the most creative mountain photographers today, and that he is, even if he would not describe himself as such, an artist who has chosen the medium of photography as his form of expression,
results at least as much from multiple coincidences as from a talent that the photographer describes in these words: “...
160 Pages, 82 Photographs in Duotone
Photos by Peter Mathis Texts by Tom Dauer & Peter Mathis Published by PRESTEL
Available in your local bookstore. Please click HERE.