In this era of unprecedented compatibility and transparency between viewers and artists, the artists presented here are at the forefront of a dynamic facet of contemporary art photography that intentionally speaks to the universality of digital image capturing and sharing which permeates daily life. Through their work, we experience the physical implications of operating in this utterly new media environment, where the origination, behaviour, and reading of photographs have been culturally upended, and we are invited into the experimental terrain that extends before our eyes.
Experimental Photography draws together six innovative contemporary American artists who are re-shaping photography’s 200-year history of experimentation with new ideas and processes. Their photographic practices include fusing analogue traditions and materials with pixel-based software and new printing and image-rendering technologies. Within a contemporary creative context, the material presence of photographs is an ever-changing experience – the scope of which is set well beyond the confines of artistic practice per se, and in the realms of Web 2.0 and the ‘cloud’ of networked images. This exhibition offers up a range of active and subjective choices made by artists to transform and translate images into tangible objects, harnessing the experimental potential of a collective ‘image environment’.
“ I am interested in the lifespan of images. I am interested in how an image comes into being, what kind of work it does, how it ages, and when the language it speaks stops being intelligible. Although a camera is not used to make these works, they are based on real objects and are grounded in the language of photography in their use of lighting, scale shift, and cropping. The rendered dirt and scratches on the objects’ surfaces evoke the temporal aspect of photography, implying a future where the real thing decays while its image is forever frozen. I think of these works as liberated – free from the tyranny of the rectangle and a permanent material state, floating in indeterminate and temporary space. ”
“ I’m exploring the idea of interface as it relates to photography, technology, and generational shifts. Through many layers, my work seeks to challenge expectations of actuality and virtuality as I move images fluidly between digital and analogue photographic processes. ”
“ In a social system in which so much culturally relevant information is transmitted via images, it is in the form of images that we most often encounter the objects of our desire. Not only that, but due to the object’s origins in mechanical reproduction, it too behaves as an image... images and objects function as delivery systems for commerce-driven ideologies. That said, such systems are entirely reliant on context and composition and are fatally disrupted by even minor interventions. ”
“ For too long, photography has relied on a failed mimicry of human vision. The chosen vantage point and bounded rectangle of a photograph can, like other aspects of representation, be used as political tools that fulfill the desires of some while controlling others and surveying all. I try to get beyond the camera’s dependence on a single line from the photographer, through the device, to the subject, by recording omnidirectionally instead. Vi- sion and representation are surprisingly malleable; if we are not fixed on a preformed model of vision, we can create a new model that is relevant to how life is lived now. ”
“ The unseen layers beneath digital post-production; the slickness of image surfaces; software updates; image feeds – all combine to create the sense of ‘obsolesence’ in our capitalistic image world. When our human hands work with analogue film, accidents are there, waiting to happen. Maybe making images is not very interesting when they are whole, perfect, and fully realised. There is something radical about the glitches we make with our hands from within the seemingly mammoth and impenetrable image environment in which we labour. ”
“ Photographs, for all their flatness, imply a genuinely heterogenous space; 2D and 3D, a surface plane and a space within...the photograph is at a far lower level of abstraction than the image, and because of this, we can, as viewers, be persuaded to struggle to work back through this abstraction, try to come to terms with the world pictured. The photographer is not best understood as a cataloguer of fact, nor a purveyor of reportage, but instead is participating in this centuries-old activity of drawing the world closer. ”