I have often written that Filter/Gauge is a photo heavy blog. I try to look at all types of fine art, and even some commercial art, but photography remains—with exception of graphic design—my favorite art medium. So after almost two months of having no photo-centered blog posts, I have one for you today. This post started by seeing some amazing photographs from two different artists, Benoit Paillé and Alberto Seveso who had taken some wonderful images that were both departures from traditional photography; both experimental and abstract (and we know I love abstract) and so I began the search to find three other artists. I usually look at an artist’s whole body of work and pick and choose from within multiple projects to present images for a post, but today, with the exception of one artist, I will be focusing on just one particular series of work for each photographer, and so the work shown may not necessarily be indicative of their work as a whole.
First up today is Hungarian photographer, Bence Bakonyi. Among a few different projects on his site, I was first introduced to a series called Dignity. This is probably the one project in this post today that could be closer to abstract photography rather than experimental, but the concept is quite experimental. Dignity is a photoset in (mostly) black and white that is an exploration of the artist’s struggle with the unknown parts of himself; doubt and uncertainty. Bakonyi uses the project to experiment with the idea of the unknown part of the self as having such a gravitational pull that it is like a black hole, collapsing us into ourselves.
In his description of the project, he describes the duality of the self and the soul; that the soul is what pulls him back from the struggle of dealing with the doubt and uncertainty of the self. The soul is huge and white and all-encompassing, while the self, black and attached to the person like a shadow, is small, but like a black hole makes your eye gravitate right to it, a blemish on a clean, white horizon. The metaphor is excellently handled in these compositions, and as you look through the photos you can see the individual—a representation of the photographer—on a journey through the soul, the lingering stain of the self finding and attaching itself, and the eventual freedom he finds. I have not included all of the images in the set (as per usual) and they are not in order, so you will need to either to just appreciate the beauty of the pictures or check out Bakonyi’s site and see the project.
Andrea Galvani is a photographer who takes some amazingly experimental and conceptual pictures. He is also the only photographer that I am showing work from across their entire portfolio. He has some amazing ideas, but as far as I can tell, only a few shots for each project, usually two, so in order to show more work I have chosen two images from three different projects. The first two photos are from a project called, Deconstruction of a Mountain, the next two are from The Wall of Sound, and the last two are from Death of an Image. Galvani’s photos have a long process behind them, a lot of planning, and then execution.
The first series of photos I’m showing are from Deconstruction of a Mountain, and are actually stills from a video shot, that the artist decided to present as photos. Galvani, when asked¹, does not go into the process of this particular project but states that a massive amount of work goes into a project before he undergoes actually doing it. Re-appropriating the mountain via dissection, Galvani transforms it from being an organic, three-dimensional object into a flat, hexagonal, humanly produced shape and subsequently shows us both in a photo, a medium that simultaneously shows us spacial arrangements in a realistic manner while being flat and artificial itself. Galvani deconstructs the mountain for us in two ways; first via the initial dissection and transformation in the real space, and secondly by transforming real space into a memory of real space that represents three dimensions but is not. Plus, it looks really cool. That’s scientific, right?
The basis behind Galvani’s next series, The Wall of Sound is encapsulated in this quote, by the artist himself: “In the project [The] Wall of Sound, a selection of photographic images are blown up and moved physically around the shoot location. The collision between actual landscape and photographic clone generates a force field, a visual plunge built around the rectangular perimeter that borders the images. The time between production and reproduction is compressed to the point that it appears absent. [The] Wall of Sound is the staging of an impossible simultaneity, a two-dimensional deception, a transgression in the hysteresis of reality. The images both reveal and subtract. They are erected as altars and they safeguard mystery.” Finally, Galvani’s last project that I am showing, Death of an Image, plays with the distortion of reality. Objects are placed in the viewing plane so as to break up visual recognition and, again, transform the natural into the artificial.
Canadian based Benoit Paillé is the first photographer in this set that I came across and has one of the most interesting photo projects that I have ever seen. His project, Alternative Landscapes reminds me of some of the stuff that Caleb Charland is doing, at the intersections of art, science, and spectacle. Paillé started the project as an exploration of landscape and the relationship between man and nature. As with Galvani’s Deconstruction, I am drawn in by the juxtaposition of the organic-ness of nature and the precise lines of the man-made. I think that the consistent square within the changing surroundings creates a dialogue between the others in the set and invite comparison and contrast. If you go to the link and check out all of the photos you will see that underneath the title, it says Part One. I hope that soon we will be able to see the next step in this project soon!
Alberto Seveso is the second photographer to inspire this post and just look at his work to see why! These are photographs of ink dropped into water, but you can’t see any water bubbles and due to the lighting and the inability to see the edge of the container, these look more like colorful sculptures. Even knowing that they are mostly water they still look solid. Seveso has a huge portfolio full of work like this so be sure to check it out. Unfortunately, I do not have much to say, interpretation-wise about his work as it is pretty straight forward, but like so much of the work on this site, ideas like this get me really excited. So simple, but so well executed, and so beautiful. Enjoy.
Emma Sampson is the final photographer for today’s post. She is (like me) a graduate of the Maine College of Art, and is based here in Portland, Maine. Another photographer that I can draw comparisons to Caleb Charland, Emma actually received instruction from him as a lab tech while she was at MECA. Her project, Anomaly, is Sampson’s experiment in creating photos that are more than just simply snapshots of reality. Using a limited palette, she turns ordinary objects into objects of wonder. The photos have names that divulge the object pictured, but I will suggest you check out the project at her site for find out.
I am entranced by the abstraction that these simple objects take on by just changing the way that we look at them. I think that is the genius of Anomaly; the departure from traditional photography, and that is a sentiment shared by every photographer in this post. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t know what the object is? I think that in that case the mental exercises we go through to construct ideas of what something is becomes far more valuable than those thousand words, and Emma captures wonder and mystery perfectly in this project.
¹”Marta Casati interviews Andrea Galvani,” February 2005 (Espoarte, no. 33, pp. 22–24, Savona, Italy) http://www.andreagalvani.com/work/deconstruction-mountain