In his fundamental 1704 treatise, Opticks, Sir Isaac Newton describes how light disperses into a spectrum of colours when it passes through a prism, and concludes that pure light – the light of the sun – is composed of the full range colours one observes in a rainbow. For his experiments, Newton made use of a camera obsura – a closed environment, which, when penetrated with light through a small opening, registers an inverted colour image.
In the photography of Sidney Regis, champion free diver-cum-underwater artist, the ocean is akin to Newton’s camera obscura. Water, the transformative medium which Regis considers to be the protagonist of his work, serves as dispersive prism instead of glass. Suspended natural and man-made detritus are sublimated into dazzling abstract forms, materialisations of refracted light.
The undulating water that animates these images illustrates the essence of colour itself, the perception of light in di erent wavelengths. Through the physically demanding feat of free diving, Regis submits himself to the same potent, literally oceanic forces that form his images, and in so doing, he enacts the romantic notion of discovering the laws of nature by surrendering to it in all its violence.