Photography Abstracted

It is my conviction that photography is inherently a form of abstraction. Through the use of a camera, the three dimensional world is reduced to a two dimensional framed representation of the world. In my work, I often further abstract the image by compromising the photograph’s indexical status, making it difficult for the viewer to deduce the photograph’s relationship to the corporeal world. Through this abstraction, the photographic image is given over to the viewer’s imagination, hailing the viewer to interpret the image for themselves. The abstract photographic images in this series are created by disrupting traditional photographic processes or by exploring/exploiting what is normally considered an imperfection or error. It is the myth of the “perfect image” that advertisers exploit to sell consumers goods - ‘here is the perfect life and it can be yours for a price’. It is the myth of the perfect image that drives planned obsolescence - from SD to HD to UHD, the new is already obsolete. Many consumers do not even desire the object itself, they desire the lifestyle associated with the advertised image. My work rejects the myth of the perfect image by celebrating imperfection as a challenge to cultural hegemony.

The images selected demonstrate several different strategies used to intentionally abstract the photographic image. Some of the techniques are the result of intense experimentation, some are the results of chance operations, and others are simply the result of technical incompetence (although some artists prefer the term “happy accident”). Moreover, the abstraction occurs at various stages of the photographic process. For instance, one of the techniques involves manipulating the undeveloped negative by exposing it to light, a process that introduces an element of chance even before the photo is developed. Another technique involves damaging the photographic print by burying it in plastic, allowing parts of the image to decompose while still maintaining aspects of the original photographic image, introducing a painterly quality. Through the use of a scanner, I have documented unstable decaying 35mm nitrate motion film in an attempt to produce both an aesthetic document and an archival image. Through direct manipulation of the digital file, organic decay transforms into digital decay.

The strategies used to produce the images all rely on maintaining faith in the artistic process, and on embracing imperfection and error. The work is made in the spirit of DIY experimentation, an ethos that is evermore vital given the cultural dominance of iPhone photography. Of course, I am not claiming that iPhonography is inherently bad; however, working with methodologies outside of the dominant modes of production allows opportunities for discovery not sanctioned by Apple – it allows for alternatives to the ubiquitous. Adopting a DIY methodology means choosing freedom over convenience.