IMAGE FOR CONCEPT
INDIRECT REPRESENTATION IN PHOTOGRAPHY
OCTOBER 15 - NOVEMBER 30, 2019
LECTURE & RECEPTION NOVEMBER 21 AT 5PM
Recognizing the place and potential for alternative processes and image making in an academic exhibition environment
Photography, like no other medium, is intrinsically tied to the technology used to produce it. Beginning with the most primitive attempts at recording projections through a camera obscura, image makers through history have pushed photographic technology through each iteration of its evolution. Early processes such as daguerreotypes, tintypes, albumin, and cyanotypes were quickly refined and polished in the pursuit of cleaner, clearer, and more accessible imagery; as was the camera machine itself.
In the roughly 200 years since the first working prototype of a machine that could capture a fixed image the camera apparatus has matured in ways that none could have predicted during the early days of its inception, and whose latest iterations still manage to astound and surprise. Alongside the technology, the role of user has progressed in a similar manner. From operator, to technician, to photographer, to artist, the user in this history has been both object and subject, innovator and servant.
Recognizing photography and the role of the photographer in an academic environment requires an examination of this non-linear, experiment-based, results oriented process and the people who pursue it. Image For Concept brings together the work of four image makers utilizing the photographic medium and traditional photographic materials in processes that deviate from tradition. The resulting imagery is displayed, installed, or otherwise exhibited in an academic venue—an environment that encourages deviation, experimentation, and supports both successes and failures as integral aspects of process.
Turning the camera on its own logic, the photographs in Average Subject / Medium Distance reconfigure paper guides once used to determine exposure and other image settings. Stripped of example imagery, technical numbers, and explanatory text, these relics from mid- century photographic practice are reduced to their underlying structure. In the process of removing this information, digital traces are created, shifting the surface into a rupture between physical and virtual, analog and digital, functional and useless.
This process creates a new surface that hints at formal mandates in the medium. A single word remains in each composition in its original location, while all other information has been neutralized. This word operates as a springboard for interpretation while pointing to the priorities and conventions conveyed by the original object.
As the separation between our physical and digital surroundings becomes increasingly blurred, and we must continually re-engineer the boundaries of the artistic medium. Imperative to my practice, photography is a tool which allows the work to begin as experiential and expand into the cerebral due to its ability to bridge the gap between documentation and expression.
Blending drawing and painting with the process of photography has led to a series of digitally produced renderings that reassess the tools and techniques from photographic history. In both Trees, and Webs, the computer monitor becomes my camera lucida, as every detail of a photograph is interpreted by my hand using a stylus and trackpad.
Each leaf of a tree is identified, each strand of the web is recognized while staying true to the original photograph. After rendering the drawing, the output of the digital image onto a physical material challenges the idea of the sacred object. The torn sketch book paper or the frayed edges of the canvas, imbue the work with uniqueness, yet the image itself is infinitely reproducible. Similar to the cliché verre, these pieces question how the art object is valued; what is the worth of a physical object as compared to the digital information that defines it?
amy theiss giese
ski a gram n. [Gk skiashadow + -gram from Gk –gramma, from comb. form of grammasomething written or drawn]
Enter the room. Captured light, both its absence and excess, is arrested, hanging on the wall. There is a compression of time and space encapsulated in these impressions that references the constant, ongoing emergence of the past, which can never fully materialize. Shadows are stilled, seized, lost. Scrolls of paper in varying lengths hang from the walls. The shifting shades of gray move across the surface. Patterns repeat, shapes emerge then recede, sometimes revealing their referent, other times remaining elusive. Embedded in each scroll is an abstracted compression of an experience, yet they also simultaneously hold the direct reference to the actual space and time—light written, recorded, captured by an alchemical process. Sounds emerge, beginning faintly then building, moments where it all seems recognizable, then the tones shift, drift and they move away. The sounds of a space, in a space expand over time, the time that relates to the original experience, the time referenced in the shadows. Awareness develops that there is a correlation between what is seen and what is heard. The experience, taken as a whole sits just at the edge of abstraction, asking the viewer to question what they see, what they hear, and how they relate to one another.
Exploiting the indexical nature that is inherent to photography, I am presenting the viewer with a collapsed moment of reality, a trace in two dimensions of something that once was a full corporeal experience. The shadow left on the paper is an abstraction of a moment, a translation of it. The large-scale, unique, silver gelatin skiagrams that I make are a direct recording of the shadow patterns in a room at night. No camera. No lens. No aperture. The referents that ground us in our own visual world are removed, and you are left with indistinct yet indexical images, actual visual abstractions of a space. The aural projections are an additional abstraction of the original experience and also a translation of the image itself via the constructed space of digital software. Shifting grains of silver to pixels then to MIDI notes to reinterpret that original impression. The play between the projected sound with its linear progression of time with its physical presence in space and the implied time inherent in the flat representation of the skiagram sets up a juxtaposition that challenges our experience of both media and their relationship to one another and to reality. And it is in the translation, both visually and aurally, that I hope to create a parallel space that a viewer can walk into, making them question what they see and how we perceive our surroundings.