Milos Sejn was quite interested in fire as a phenomenon from the beginning of the 1970’s, and in his recent realisations he incorporated it into comprehensive, differentially structured works in which fire appears not only as an element itself but in relationship towards man, in mutual connection of the variability of the flame and that of the human gesture. “Mazarna / Definition of Space by Fire” of 10 July 1982 is among the most important of them. The initial moment here is probably an interest in photo documentation of the emotionally and sensual intense environment of the cave, rich in reference (the environment of stones, rocks and caves many years ago became virtually the only environment for Sejn on which his work was based, undoubtedly because of its primary and archetypal characteristics), in transformations caused by illuminating with a fire torch. Fire itself has been formed by a human here, “controlled”, becomes part of his activity. The gradual “research” into each part of the cave is determined by the author’s subject and transformation of fire, and also the mechanical properties of the photographic image and accidental and unexpected interventions from outside (such as the accidental momentary presence of people). Only in photographs can the true appearance of this “research” be seen, not only because it was realised without spectators, but primarily because it is fully based on the possibilities of photography, allowing longer exposures to record the whole movement along the cave wall or roof, along the boulders or small lakes. It is actually mutual “research” into the natural environment through the technical media of photography and vice versa, the medium of photography through a particular situation, elementary for man. The torch flame sometimes provides a true model of the rock wall, sometimes detracts from it and becomes independent in a peculiar calligraphy, following the appearance of the environment and developing it further. The presence of a human body isn’t apparent in the photograph, but we realise it merely due to the dynamics of the record which we connect with a human gesture (and, last but not least, also with the expression of the author’s subject). Thus the initial intention to document the appearance of the cave through the light of fire still changed, enhanced with other aspects … Certain sequences will contain water (another element!) and also the clay floor of the cave with spread stones reminding of the cave’s ancient role as shelter and the moment of time connected thereto, and its passing. The expressiveness of some light traces implies again the ritual substance of human behaviour, obviously strengthened with the cave environment inside. The closing sequence not only connects the cave environment with boulders in front, this implying the unity of the “inside” and “outside”, the mutual condition of these two types of environment (with all associations implied by this relationship) and their mutual transformation in the course of time, and also – probably unintentionally – reminds one of Plato’s cave … The fact that the author isn’t so much interested in the document of action as in the “nature of that which is seen”, i.e. recorded in photographs, is also supported by the fact that Milos Sejn, rather than exhibiting the complete collection, prefers a selection of shots which accentuates internal relations, visual consistency and the consistency of references and evocations.
Extract from text by Jiří Valoch, Brno, 1983
Vymezení prostoru ohněm.pdf
Definition of Space by Fire.pdf