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August 05, 2017


Captures in the Wild


BlacklivesmatterI've been reading about the history of photography. Did you know that in its infancy (the early 1800s), photography sought to mimic paintings which is why early photos show models posed the way painters would have posed them? It isn't until the late 1800s that the photograph development process evolved from a wet to dry process, allowing photographers to leave the studio and shoot images in the wild ... less like traditional paintings. Such advances allowed photographers to become artists/activists and present startling images ... scenes from wars, The Great Depression, crimes, riots, etc. These images that I think are simultaneously science and art, beautiful and ugly, real and (as Susan Sontag would argue) edited and framed (like everything in the world). 

Fast forward to now ... where practically everybody has the ability to capture and share images.

As a painter, I find it fascinating ... the circling back ... where my practice utilizes photos that I reference to make paintings. Of course there is also an artistic license that a painter holds ... to exaggerate or abstract the reference, and perhaps invoke magical realism to then cause the photo reference to be one of the many ingredients to create a new work of art altogether.

Last night I saw a one-woman art performance by Vivian Bang, where she revisits the complex facets of the 1992 LA Riots, where the world was inundated with photos and videos from the wild ... of police brutality suffered by Rodney King ... of that brutality shockingly exonerated by a jury ... of the violence that erupted after the exoneration ... of that violence being ironically and tragically targeted toward Korean Americans and their businesses ... and all that. 

This year, there was the Women's March that I proudly participated in. Of the many photos from the march that I saw, this one made me weep. This one of young Asian Americans holding a Love = #blacklivesmatter poster. It made me weep because I wanted to hug the parents of these youth who have raised them right. That in spite of ironic conflicts among minority communities in the past (fueled by irrational skapegoating), it is still the right thing to do to teach our youth what is right and what is wrong. It makes me wonder ... what will these youth be doing 10 0r 20 years from now when a photographer captures them in a new frame? Standing up for right, is my guess. My hope. 

(PC: Nick Holmes, Women's March Los Angeles 2017 book)

 

 

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