| Urban Nature, 1975-1980
Gelatin silver prints, 24" x 30"
Beginning in 1969 to around 1980, my photographic projects
fit into a genre of image making heavily influenced by the documentary
tradition. This mode of fine arts photography concentrated on documentation
in the journalistic sense of photographing scenes, cultural events
and environments one came across by chance or circumstance. The
focus was on a balance between the chance encounters of interesting
or banal subject matter and its visual orchestration according to
a lexicon of formal compositional strategies. The game lay in a
contrast between the veracity of the photographic image and the
shift in meaning that occurs when the photographer conscientiously
explores how real-time and real space are reduced and transformed
through the freezing of a moment into a two-dimensional image.
The activity of walking around looking for visually
interesting studies and chance events in urban and suburban environments
was replaced by visits to construction yards at night, which further
shifted the emphasis towards formal resolution of visual elements.
20th Century technical, and evidential photographs that were done
for reasons other than aesthetic, were guiding models. The prioritization
of the photograph´s formal orchestration over its subject matter
addressed the historical and ongoing dialogue between photography
and painting, where the gesture based construction process of painting
was challenged by the mechanical recording process of the photograph.
From 1974 onwards, I began to explore the balance
between order and chaos in visual compositions, a precursor to my
later interest in Claude Shannon´s Information Theory. The approach
consisted of studying the visual relationship of cluttered, banal
and uneventful subject matter (a form of noise) in real space and
to orchestrate the subject matter defined by the rectangular frame
of the image to achieve a formal balance. The emphasis was on the
act of formal structuring and the image´s success resided in the
degree of difference between the image´s order in contrast to the
subject matter´s chaos. The use of strobe lighting in daylight and
darkness, further distanced the photographic image from its original
subject matter, which further exaggerated the artifice of the photographic
mechanical recording process.