Pushing photography beyond its indexical limits, works by Ann Woo, Sam Falls, Lucas Blalock and Jessica Eaton explore the language and materiality of the medium itself. This feature brings together four artists who are included in Lay Flat 02: Meta - a new limited edition publication of contemporary photography and writing, edited by myself along with guest editor Michael Bühler-Rose.
Join Lay Flat at the International Center of Photography in New York on Friday, March 26th from 6-7:30pm to celebrate the release of Lay Flat 02: Meta.
Ann Woo's Sunset, Green, 2008 comes from a series of seven images she produced from one negative - a photograph of a pure tonal gradient taken on a clear, cloudless day. With no real object in the frame to provide an anchoring point for true grey, the sublime "Sunsets" ultimately lead the viewer to question what is 'real' and what is 'true'. She positions these images in conversation with portraits of women, various flower arrangements, wallpaper and a stone cave. "Perhaps my photographs are the results of an enjoyment in seeing," she writes about her work(.) "A pure fascination of light and color; a wondering between perfection and imperfection; a frustration in loss of memory; an appreciation of idea and beauty and a questioning of representation in the photographic process."
Sam Falls' still life David Hockney Slides, 2009 was made following a chance discovery at a thrift store in Brooklyn, New York. He found the box of slides with David Hockney's name on them and immediately noticed that mixed in with Hockney's paintings were a curious selection of vacation snapshots from around America. Falls intentionally photographed the slides so that the images are not visible to us, perhaps to preserve their mystery but also, as he points out, "this makes the title on the box more informative than the photographs within the picture." Falls' other works, though generally less literal in their references, are non-serial in nature and persistently toy with the expectations we place upon images.
Lucas Blalock has described his work as being "engaged in the ways that falseness/mechanics in pictures can bring the viewer into a more intimate relation to the world." With Portrait Study (Nina), 2009, Blalock makes a portrait that is both intimate and overtly mechanical, referencing the medium (and his tool, the camera) through his use of multiple exposures. In addition to portraits, he creates still lifes that are equally peculiar and inquire into the meanings embedded in objects/structures. By avoiding a 'natural' view in his work, Blalock hopes that the viewer will respond to this alienation and interact with his pictures more directly.
Jessica Eaton's works are often inspired by light, space or other visual phenomena inherent in photography. With her piece Landscape Missing a Byte, 2009 Eaton transforms an earlier photograph, Landscape Near Mission, BC, 2007, by making a slight change in the code of the image file (removing a byte of information using a hex editor). This removal causes a shift in the photograph - both the digital information and its visual representation - and in turn makes a new, 'altered' landscape. Eaton views her photographs as experiments, always leaving room for accidents to occur in the process of making them. "I spend a good deal of time thinking about what photography is and let that dialogue lead me to ideas of what it could be," she says. "I want to make photographs that surprise myself."