Diptych of Duratrans lightboxes, On view in Due South at the Delaware Contemporary through April 30, 2017.
Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian, Akragas in Greek) is one of the archaeological wonders of Sicily and the broader Mediterranean, many archaeologists have declared that the Temple of Concordia in the Valley of the Temples (Sicilian: Vaddi di li Tempri) is the best preserved example of Greek Doric temples outside of the Parthenon. With an expansive archaeological park and the sheer amount of objects that continue to be excavated and exhibited within their archaeological museum, the site is undeniably a center for research, preservation and scholarship. However like archaeology worldwide, much research is done by outsiders and objects are taken and exhibited in international museums outside of the homeland where they were excavated. While the destruction of a site such as Palmyra in Syria shows us the value of global object sharing and the decentralization of archaeological rarities, it remains problematic when outsiders are the loudest voices writing and telling the story of a place. In the case of Sicily, much of this history has been written and interpreted by the prolific curators and historians at the British Museum in London. These Duratrans light boxes are reproductions of decades old faded fluorescent boxes found within the older wing of the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento of a Greek Demeter bust and a Roman two-faced Janus. These photographic reproductions were left to slowly decay while the majority of the core museum's displays have seen major recent renovation. Despite a museum's best intention for preservation and conservation of their collection objects, the lightboxes' faded color and distressed tones are demonstrative of the very passage of history that does happen within a museum’s walls and within images; objects can become further apparitions through their photographic reproduction.
Girls, Guns, & Game....
Girls, Guns, & Game.... is an adhesive fabric print installation at University of the Art's Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery made for the group exhibition After Now, also featuring the work of Gideon Barnett, Michael Ciervo, Micah Danges, Samuel Hindolo, and Peter Allen Hoffmann.
Sourcing images from 1960s and 70s issues of the state-sponsored PA Game Commission magazine Pennsylvania Game News, the piece surveys the landscape of gun culture and hunting photography that paradoxically celebrates the quietude of collections and the violence of ownership. Using a malfunctioning online print order website to arbitrarily crop the high-res scanned files allowed for a collaboration with chance, in order to reframe the images in an additional layer of violence to the photograph or an uncanny censorship that denies the viewer the fuller context.
Photography is uniquely poised to reflect the world around us but is also fundamentally an abstraction as the world is cropped and framed; this process escalates that tension further with an attempt to add a psychological layer that is perhaps more kindred with an outsider's encounter with gun photography.
Utilizing photographs both made and found, Trim Tab was an exhibition at Vox Populi that included selections from three bodies and work and a major installation exploring the speed in which ideologies are imposed on and shift the context of human invention or facts. By collecting over a thousand photographs of geodesic domes – ranging from the mid century utopian architectural movements which popularized them, mundane real estate listings, Burning Man structures, “glamping” culture, children’s playgrounds, the architecture of surveillance, and our dreams for settlement on planets beyond our own – the installation Call Me Trim Tab sought to critically map a structure through time, disparate photographic intentions, and the human imagination. Surrounding works included a trio of adhesive photographic prints, entitled Rather, from personal photographs that capture the utopian imagination: a geometric tourmalated quartz sample, the obliteration of information by a broken fax machine transformed into a painterly abstraction, and a mold-damaged blurry photograph of a large-scale Tesla coil. On view was also a diptych, Special Case Experience, of found-image blueprints made from public domain NASA photography. The first image was a famed photograph of a 4.901 billion year old mineral sample from the asteroid ALH84001 that falsely lead President Bill Clinton to publicly legitimize life in the universe in 1996 and a recent photograph of the "Martian blueberries" that have been taken with a thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) on Odyssey that adds infrared data to the weak visible camera, and have further been colored by scientist-artists to simulate what the surface may look like to the naked eye.
Writing is a little door. Some fantasies, like big pieces of furniture, won’t come through. – Susan Sontag, from the late writer’s personal diary, August 30, 1964
On view will be new work ruminating on systems of communication and where ideas live (and die) in the 21st century. The video piece 1964/2014 digitally dismantles the graphics of the 2014 HBO biopic Regarding Susan Sontag accompanied by a voice-to-text automated computer software program reading Sontag’s personal journals from 1964 as its soundtrack. The frantic dissociative pace in the journals is mimicked in the language contained in unusual letters found in a mailbox within the gallery: employing Amazon Mechanical Turk workers for what was advertised as a “handwriting test,” transcribing collected spam emails from the last year into handwritten correspondence between strangers. Other photographic works include a black and white diptych of social architecture: a modernist bird house next to a gas tank and a seemingly suburban site where the fiberoptic internet cables come ashore at the Jersey shore. A trio of digitally glitched images are made by scanner error, remaining obliterated copies of personal photographs that were destroyed after their errored capture. In total the works aim to blur the boundaries between private and public architectural, photographic, and historical space.
At first she beckoned and lured one into her world; then, she blurred the passageways, confused all the images, as if to elude detection. – Anaïs Nin, from the novel A Spy in the House of Love, 1954
Not a Just Image, Just an Image
The KeLCD is a camera I invented akin to popularized "aura photography" devices in 2011 to take pictures not just of the subject in front of the lens, but also of my experience with the thing photographed. A modified Polaroid Land Camera equipped with an Arduino microcontroller, the camera has two copper sensors worn around the fingers that run into the "brain" of the camera. The camera takes 100 readings every ten seconds of my GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) which is then averaged. GSR measures the electrical conductivity of my skin (technology popularly implemented in most lie detector tests as well as Scientology meters). It senses my excitement and tension, and this is mapped onto the 0-360 color wheel by the Arduino. I programmed the Arduino to then project that color inside the camera with color-changing LEDs. Cocking the shutter on the Polaroid camera triggers this entire process.
The result is a double exposure with a color light-field coming from the physiological response of my body and the image that is photographed by the camera. The body of work made with the KeLCD camera, entitled Third Eye is a look at the places that resonate most abstractly with me: home. Both my own home and the home I grew up in are photographed. These places, rooms, and things, contain more information than any photograph could describe. Instead, my memories and body have to try to point to a relationship with those place, and not just depicting the place itself.
Presented in these installations have been just a small selection of hundreds of photographs taken with the camera; the KeLCD and Third Eye have been exhibited in various iterations exploring the development of a personal looking device and the subsequent body of work from that camera at the Berman Museum of Art, Icebox Project Space, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Many thanks to Hive 76 in Philadelphia for the instruction, assistance, and facilities to make the camera a reality.
Softcover Book, 40 pages, 185 x 260 mm. Lugo Land / The University of Pennsylvania Published by Edizioni del Bradipo Book design by Filippo Nostri Special thanks to Terry Adkins and Luca Nostri
A Civil War
Scanned abstractions from water and chemical-damaged family photographs found after Hurricane Katrina. This project of archival pigment prints, each 24 x 24 inches is accompanied by a unique book that attempts to reunite the full uncropped images to make a family album of the lost photographs.