Marina Ballo Charmet is involved in the experience of visual touch which precedesthe act of apprehending an object identified (designated, named) and sought-after assuch. Her way of seeing corresponds to the unfolding of a rough surface and toperception that gropes its way around a mass that envelops. She introduces to thephotographic description an approach that is different from the modes of detachedknowledge and from the mechanisms of aesthetic appropriation. She is not evenlooking for the empathic intuition, nor a corresponding pathos of an image whichprivileges the apparition over the appearance. She is less interested in what ismissing or broken in the visual fabric, in the features of discontinuity – which have anepiphanic value in the imaginary of instant photography – than in the swelling and thewidening of the physiological field of the image.The things that make a city – the qualities of a “cityscape” – have disappeared fromthe images of Con la coda dell’occhio (1993-4). What remains are the stony bases ofa fragmented urban territory, crumbling or reinforced, irregular, receding, etc. A doglooks through the photographer’s lens. It all happens at ground level, on theimmediate periphery of the city’s most common expanse, on the fringes, as it were,of a commonplace: along the wayside. The recurring figure is the planted divider stripor traffic island: the farmer’s auiòla reduced to a landscaping contract, a thirstystretch of urban vegetation, a “flower bed” aligned on the street. But it also happensalong the wayside of vision. The idea of the field (campo) has reappeared, far fromcountryside: a cultivated field, the metaphor of every space or range of activity. In thiscase, it is a field of perception. An uncertain field, opened alongside the streets thatordinarily define the urban perspective and orient the gaze.Marina Ballo-Charmet is interested in the wanderings and the eroticism of the eye.She is not seeking to generate or even to arouse visions. She is content to explorethe workings of the human gaze and disturbances to perception, without recourse tothe striking event or the marvelous association. Her position is akin to RaoulHausmann’s exploration of close-up and peripheral vision. Like him, she challengesthe anthropocentrism of an “exact” and supposedly objective vision. On may recall,for example, an observation made by Raoul Hausmann in 1921: “For millennia oureyes have adapted to an optics reflecting our notions of possession and ourtendencies to inferiority: we would lose our assurance of an upright posture, of ahuman standing, if the perspective of high and low, of great and small, did notmaintain our consciousness of a natural superiority over the surroundings, throughan overcompensation of vision.”In parks, as well as in the street, Marina moves at land, to quote the first film of MayaDeren (1944), considered by Adam Sitney as the prototype of the “trance film”. Shemakes her way as one would sail, through cities and parks, among bodies, giving herpictures an oceanic and kinematic dimension.In Primo campo (2001-3), each plane is a cross-section in the duration of an activegaze that is moving, is moved, trembles and is startled like gooseflesh at the surfaceof the body as observed. This cinematic treatment of the still image owes a greatdeal to the video experiment conducted by Marina Ballo since the publication of Conla coda dell’occhio. Yet the images collected in Primo campo have not been frozen ina flow of a filmic continuity. Each image is the result of a photographic session whichshares with the process involved in film-making only the experience of the mobility ofthe gaze within a given field or plane – primo campo.Can one really talk in terms of observation and composition when the object is soclose that the act of viewing is more like a sculptor’s modelling? Marina Ballo doesnot “put” things next to each other; she does not juxtapose blurred and sharp areas.Modelling and modulation are the most appropriate words to describe the tactilecharacter of the gaze. The image changes texture, the human gaze no longer graspsits subject at a distance but becomes a channel for contact and involvement that ispsychic as much as it is physiological.