Haunting images from the archives

Have you seen Mat Collishaw's latest exhibition at the Library of Birmingham?  In Camera is an installation created around a series of twelve crime scene negatives that Mat discovered hidden among an archive of orphaned police negatives whilst exploring the Library’s extensive photography collections last year.  

Mat Collinshaw, Installation shot from In Camera, Library of Birmingham, 2015.

Mat Collinshaw, Installation shot from In Camera, Library of Birmingham, 2015.

They were originally made for Birmingham City Police Force during the 1930s and 1940s to provide evidence in alleged and actual crimes committed in the city. Mat Colishaw creates unsettling objects out of these unexceptional transparent images by taking them out of their institutional setting within the Archives and detaching them from their case notes.  He has filled a darkroom with 12 large negative images printed in phosphorescent ink. Incarcerated in translucent vitrines, they are lit up in turn as if by the flashbulbs of scenes-of-crime officers. The scenes glow eerily in the darkness, as if lit for forensic analysis.

How do you think our reading of images is affected by the context in which they are viewed? Do the ones in this exhibition invite you to speculate about the identity of suspects and victims, or the circumstances in which these crimes were committed?