Infinite Perimeter *
The place where one draws breath and calls one's home; 'tis whence one begins;
The place one recalls and reminisces, be it in a positive or negative light, years down the line, even if one never left it, either physically or mentally; It exists as place, as time, as a past experience in one's memory and imagination; 'tis the remains of this theme that jointly shape the way one feels;
The spacetime one calls one's home is under tremendous pressure, and the issue is with whom, why, and to what extent one is willing to share it.
The pictures were taken on the island of Crete between May 2014 and 2018.
This series of images is not a strict document; rather then depict a place that is defined by explicit morphological characteristics, though it remains conceptually and geographically boundless.
Infinite Perimeter is a project about human identity as it exists within the current stage of capitalism. It is about the feelings of loss, loneliness and isolation that everyone can experience whether as actual immigrants or even into their homeland. It is about the sense of being exiled even from ourselves.
*Niels Fabian Helge von Koch (25 January 1870 – 11 March 1924)
was a Swedish mathematician who gave his name to the famous fractal known as the Koch snowflake,one of the earliest fractal curves to be described. Koch’s snowflake is a quintessential example of a fractal curve,a curve of infinite length in a bounded region of the plane. A finite area contained in an infinite perimeter.
For the British Journal of Photography
Issue December 2018
Michalis Poulas has lived in Crete for much of his life. It was here that he first
learned the technicalities of photography from his father, who opened a film-processing
shop on the Greek island in 1988, and here that he built a career as a professional photographer.
Shooting mostly on digital, in 2014 he decided to revisit the world of medium
format, and with all the languidness that such work entails, it seemed natural that
the island should serve as his subject.
The result is Infinite Perimeter, an as-yet-unfinished series which looks at a decade of
sociopolitical unrest on the island with a cool objectivity.
While all the images were taken in Crete – 90 per cent of them
within 10 kilometres of Poulas’s home – this is neither documentary
photography, nor a series about Greece specifically. Rather, it’s about the instability
permeating the Western world today. “For what I need to do, I don’t need to go far,” Poulas explains.
“I need the place to be no place. It’s not Crete – it’s the feeling and the atmosphere
that I want to communicate.”
In photographs of empty, windswept landscapes and abandoned structures, floating quietly
to the surface are the undertones of economic pressure, fatigue, poverty and unease.
This is a work about human identity, left fragmented by the deterioration
of capitalism, Poulas explains – and it’s embodied poignantly in these calm snapshots
of his local area.
If Crete is both protagonist and silent bystander in his work, the series’ other main character
is the Swedish mathematician Niels Fabian Helge von Koch. He discovered the eponymous
Koch snowflake, one of the first examples of a fractal – a curve of infinite length outside a bounded area.
This pretty form appears to be simple, but in fact it fractures to produce an endless void.
The futility which underpins this complex concept resonated with Poulas, who recognised in it
the key tenets of our modern condition, and drew on the accompanying text for the series title.
“Imagine you have a shape and the perimeter is growing and growing infinitely, but the space
inside it stays the same,”
“It’s like a fence that’s keeping people
outside of an imaginary shape”
– one that’s constantly growing, but also stays the same size.
This idea is thrown into stark relief by the refugee crisis so familiar to residents of the Greek islands,
Koch’s snowflake seeming in that context to reflect the European border.
Poulas’s hope in making this series has always been for a kind of catharsis, he says,
though he believes this to be wishful thinking.