The collective American identity through the documentation of everyday people and locations
“Monumentalize” everyday subject matter
The Technical, Conceptual, and Formal – Liz Deschenes – Green Screen
A project of mine from 2001 is titled Green Screen Process. It’s a series of photographs that literally have green screens as their “subject matter.” The large green monochrome backdrop is a photograph, and could “act” as the thing that it is depicting. -What does the Camera know, but never capture?
In the ‘Passages’ (2009) series, nebulous large-scale colour prints confess their trajectory through an airport X-ray machine in the form of blurred lines and hazy irregularities. Echoing the processes of fingerprinting and body scans used in the increasingly politicized zone of the airport, the images are an appreciable evocation of the legislative and ideological transformations of a post- 9/11 world, as felt by every traveller. (The project is an intentional exercise stemming from an earlier accident, when film Beshty had taken of the deserted Iraqi Diplomatic Mission in Berlin was run through X-ray machines during his journey, and later shown at the 2008 Whitney Biennial.) They are also thoroughly charming abstract fields of fading colour: the new systems of corporeal degradation exercized in airports since September 2001, which establish a state of exception as a civic norm, are rendered oddly palatable.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have been concerned with Undisclosed images, and the ability to employ it as a technique to point out a kind of simplistic politically charged seeing that occurs in traditional war photography. Abstract photography could be understood as photography that is free of representational qualities, but that would assume it as having the same linear history alongside the history of abstraction in painting. In my understanding, there really is not abstract photography, except from our sloppy use of the term ‘abstract.’ We call something abstract the moment it references some gesture that we recognize from a modernist painting, or if the photo doesn’t disclose to us right away what it is. So, the phrase abstract photography usually means, “This image has not disclosed its meaning/sense to me right away.” Undisclosed, is a more precise term. It describes those images that offer us objects “defined by their concrete, material existence, referring to nothing outside themselves.” To be undisclosed does not mean that disclosure is not possible—it just means that at this moment in time, that is not what is going on. These images are unidsclosed, for the purpose of revealing. It only reveals what is truly there, what it truly going on in the war, by avoiding the representational qualities.
John Hilliard – Camera recording its own condition.
John Hilliard – 60 Seconds of Light.
Both of these works are concerned with Light and its dual-function. Light discloses. Light conceals. Light, understood through the photographic processes, is has a dual-function. It is both that which reveals and that which conceals. The light in a photograph can make present the detail of something, but the absence of it can conceal something that we may know to be there. To bring it back to Gordon Matta-Clark, his Splitting work mimics the dual-function of light in photography. The saw that cut through the house both revealed a strip of light that echoed back to the domestic object that it once was and called forth a new understanding. Similarily, Hilliard is making work that reveals the functioning of the camera in its creation. Splitting cannot be understood apart from the act of the saw and what it did to the object that was there before the saw came into it. Hilliard’s work cannot be understood apart from the camera and its particular qualities of representation. The camera never records raw-data. The setting of the aperature, the shutter speed, etc… are all concerns of the photographer and could be called abstraction in the loose-sense.
Are We done Photographing Things?
If we shift our focus away from asking, “Is there anything left to photograph?” we can begin to explore ways of looking/understanding that doesn’t depend on things, but rather, the thing that makes their thingness present at all. Light, time, memory, space, objects, processes, understanding, looking, and seeing. These are not things that occur in the world of cups, tables, chairs, laptops, walls, windows, and atoms. They are a different kind of thing.
Exploring “Abstraction” without talking about it.
Can the way the vernacular language around photography, that associates anything that is not immediately disclosed, as abstract be used to our advantage. What does this implicit interpretative model bring to our toolbox as photographers?hing that makes our understanding of things possible.
Check out this quick 60 second video. REMEMBER TO FULL SCREEN THE VIDEO
“It’s all to do with our cone cells, one of the two types of photoreceptors within our eye’s retina, which are responsible for color vision. We have three types of cones, which are sensitive to blue, green or red wavelengths of light. When we’re exposed to a lot of one color, that particular type of cone gets overstimulated and becomes “tired” and unresponsive. This leaves you temporarily with the use of only your other two types of cone, which show the opposing “complementary” color (i.e red versus green and blue versus yellow). After a few seconds, the cones “recharge” and you’re able to perceive that color again.” – IFLS
While researching for assignment four, I came across works by Micah Lexier. These were works I had seen before but now I was looking at them in a whole new light. I knew I wanted to stick with the theme of unconventional portraits for the last assignment and I didn’t even think of using Lexier’s work as inspiration because I had never thought of him as an artist who did portraits.
The way Lexier uses text in his work is quite interesting. He is able to create thought provoking portraits through the use of text only. In Now & Then, shown above, he uses text to create a unique self portrait. The black text represents the life he has lived so far while the rest of the white space on the wall represents the life he has yet to live according to the average life expectancy. The size of the text and the boldness makes the message pop and confronts the viewer with a visual representation of how much time Lexier has left to live while also forcing them to reflect on their own life.
Another text piece by Lexier, Two Equal Texts, is an interesting and unconventional portrait. He wrote a sample of text and asked a friend to create a new piece of text using every letter and punctuation. In this sense, the two text pieces are portraits of one another. The font and boldness is the same as Now & Then in that it is generic enough so that the viewer can focus on the message instead of the aesthetics of the font.
Lexier isn’t the only artist to approach this style of portrait making, John Baldessari also works a lot with text. In the piece shown above, Painting and Drawing, he creates a painting with no images, only words. Painting and Drawing is a portrait of any and all painting and drawing. Though it doesn’t contain any images, it makes you recall paintings and drawings that you’ve seen in the past. It also makes you question what a painting or a drawing can be.
I think the idea of creating a portrait of something through text is very interesting. This forces the viewer to create an image in their head and provides them with a different viewing experience than a piece with images.
What is my series considering?
The nature of this project is colour, how they interact, how they can stand out from the crowd. It is fundamental to the act of seeing. It is hard to separate colour from the sight. Colour alone, without context (in an abstract form) can create a story, a feeling, a person.
Newton and Gothe
While not artists but theorist, these two individuals have a significant impact on my piece. The colours, and medium give the feel of true pigments, and reference to the colour wheels of past.
The “first” abstract painter was inspired by an old painting of his turned on its side. The removal of referential objects allowed the full impact of pure colour to work on his senses. He believed that objects were only obstructing his direct communion with colour.
Artist- Mark Rothko, Multi forms
Considered one of “the foremost of modern colourist”. “Bright Earth” by Philip Ball
Rothko had a notion that viewers of his work should cry from the emotions they felt from viewing it. He had an amazing understanding of colour, how one colour could enforce another, and how all colours can cause emotions. His paintings are abstract and rely on colour, however, Rothko expressed that the paintings were of something. The colours were simply his way of depicting the emotions and feelings of the moment or thing he felt called to paint.
This black and grey series were done near the end of Rothko’s life. While you may think that these colours represented a dark, lonely or looming end. However, Rothko explained that colour for him was to reference emotions, and bright colours often conjure the feeling of pain (explained by Rothko’s daughter as she reflects on conversations with her father about these paintings)
Lecture ft. Rothko’s son
Clip from MOMA
Beauty in the Banal
During my exploration of a fall portrait. Particular colours which seems out of place grabbed my attention, realizing that we often view things, but we don’t really see them. This process lead me to think of the banal moments in our every day life. We live these moments, such as making your bed in the morning, or waiting on the bus, that we view in complete boredom. However, imagine if you were to really look, and saw the beauty in each image, each moment. Colours shape our world, but I worry that we see it in black and white.
Mass consumption of images
Like with many pop artist, I am concerned with mass consumption of our era. However, my concern is for the consumption of images and moments as opposed to items. We take for granted the moments we live and the images we see, ignoring the striking beauty of each. This concept goes hand in hand with the beauty in the banal. I hope that in my exploration, I am able to bring a new appreciation to every moment. I believe there to be a link between how we consume images, and how we consume colour.
Artist- Andy Warhol
“Art does nothing more than mirror the culture that produces it.” Bright Earth , Philip Ball (318)
Unlike Warhol who uses repetition to mimic the process of our mass consumption, I hope to do the opposite. Through my repetition, I hope my images causes the viewer to slow down and absorb the image. Creating a moment where a viewer may be able to experience the opposite of the mass consumption of images they view every day.
Additionally, Warhol was interested in the banality of photography.
Thought this was interesting, so I thought I would share.