Monday, August 24, 2009

Art and Manipulation: Photographic Image-Making

"Medicine Day", Unique multi-gelatin-toned photogram, 2009

Art and Manipulation: Photographic Image-Making
By Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins

(from an essay in the catalogue to the Hilo International Works on Paper Exhibition, published in 2010)

Truth in image-making is a concept that has long been abandoned by a number of artists who prefer instead to play with reality and take liberties with “nature” in their work. It could also be argued that as soon as artists transfer what they see into an artistic medium, the notion of real nature is already changed, as the very change in medium is in itself a manipulation of nature. Art objects, and the artists and photographers who create them, are witnesses to the real world. Artists create illusions of what we all see, and their creations - especially the photographs – exist as traces left behind from our encounters with people, places and things that refer to something in the real world. These images are stand-ins for real objects in our memory; they become our reference points. But as reference points, they are also personalized by the observer’s choices.

The return to older photographic processes reveals much about the way we think about photography today. We look for photography to lead us to something else, to point to some other process of manipulation or way of seeing – even when the image is created without a camera, as with a photogram.

Rollins’ work in the exhibition are diptychs of drawing-based photograms and poems. The work was inspired by a seven-year-old boy’s vision of a seven-minute-long solar eclipse. The complete series includes images and the poems tracing the event through seven states or levels. His photograms are photographs made without a camera by placing objects directly onto photographic paper and exposing it to light.

"Eclipse Day", Unique multi-gelatin-toned photogram, 2009