Syntax of the Copy, 1977
Gelatin Silver print, hand tinted, 20" x 24"
"Syntax of the Copy" is a project coming out of the
tradition of the "still life". It consists of sequences
and variations of a set of objects and their fascimile copies
juxtaposed against each other.
In 1977 I worked in a commercial photography studio and was daily
exposed to the staging and construction of newspaper ads of merchandise
photographed for the daily promotions of products for the consumer
market. Every morning, blueprintsarrived illustrating how the
photograph needed to be taken with accompanying copy. Models showed
up and by late afternoon, the finished prints would be sent off
to the newspaper printers. Exposed to the artifice of studio visualization,
I became interested in the staging process and the question of
the relationship between the copy and the real. I stayed after-hours
at which time I would collect objects at the local construction
site and brought them back to the studio to be copied on a stat
machine and then photographed the two in the "still life"
tradition using a large format studio camera.
At this time, the focus of the photographic discourse centered
on examining the relationship of the real to the copy, and also
the notion of the photograph as the result of a process of a set
of actions and events over time. Roland Barthes' influence was
felt in terms of his analysis of the multiple layers of codification
in the photographic image as expounded in his "Rhetoric of
the Image". "Syntax of the Copy" can be thought
of as a consequence of the intersection of commercial studio practice,
its theoretical analysis, and the poetics of the fine arts image.