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Processing the Process
Jacinthe Lessard-L’s photographic and sculptural series La Chambre, 2010-2012, beautifully illuminates the integral relationship of art and the technology that makes it possible. Visitors to Truck Contemporary Gallery in Calgary where the works are being exhibited were confronted with walls lined with larger-than-life prints of colourful geometric shapes. These forms seem at once familiar in shape, but also alien due to the strange matte texture and bright pops of colour. Lessard-L’s series is visually stunning and initially elusive, thus drawing the viewer in for a closer look. Upon further inspection it becomes evident that the photos have captured the images of casts of the inner chambers of popular cameras from previous decades.
The strange physicality and unnatural colours of the silicone casts emphasize the wonder of the photographic process. In making visible the interior machinery of these devices one would assume that it would make the process more comprehensible, but it ironically remains just as elusive, if not more so.
There is a poetic self-referentiality to these works. The casts take shape within the camera in the same chambers where light is transformed into a photographic image. Lessard-L’s process makes physical the transformation chambers of the camera, putting the device and its process through a materialization of itself. As Luba Diduch writes in an essay on this body of work “Lessard’s intention is to create an homage to an important space that, she says, is shrinking over time due to developments in technology.”
- Emily Cluett
A frame is not the only way to encase an artwork for display. More artists are experimenting with plastic resins or glass to create their pieces. The resin preserves the work, more so than a wooden frame would do. The results are often similar to prehistoric sap with various objects from leaves to bugs, found within them.
If it wasn’t for plastic resin, some of artist Peter Alexander’s works would not even exist, as his piece “Cloud Box” (1966) consisted of “introducing water vapor to the liquid resin during the casting process” which created the cloud within. The artist was actually able to ‘catch’ a cloud, or technically, create a cloud and trap it forever, thanks to the resin.
Another artist who tampers with their resin to create unique pieces is Michal Macku, who in 1989 began working with ‘gellage’, his own invention of combining collage elements and gelatin. Working with gelatin prints, the artist is able to reshape his photographs, “changing their relationships and endowing them with new meanings during the transfer”. He then combines this process with state-of-the-art technology to great his large scale glass gellages, which trap his images in a 3D setting, rather than flat like a photograph.
Roni Horn’s “Well and Truly” (2009-2010) plays with illusion, where the work at first seems like a container holding water, but inspecting the piece reveals the work’s true medium; a solid cylinder of glass. The artist emanates the characteristic of water, its changeability, by allowing air to come into contact with the top of the glass as it sets in its mold, creating a smooth gloss. The artist undermines “all certainty about [the piece’s] solid or liquid nature” changing the physical experience of the viewer.
Changing physical materiality is also present in Kirsten Baskett’s pieces, such as “Autonoma”. Baskett etches delicate images onto fine Japanese kozo paper, later encasing them in clear resin, and the once “fragile paper becomes indestructible and untouchable”. The artist sees her pieces as frozen in time, permanently available to view, but never to experience the true materiality of the object captured within.
Photographer Paul Schneggenburger takes 6 hour exposure shots of slumbering, snuggling, writhing couples. The artist asks each pair of lovers to lay their weary bodies on a bed in his own apartment, his dark sheets lit gently by candlelight. The movements of the beloveds, sometimes sweeping and sometimes jolting, are all captured on film.
Maison Martin Margiela, Couture, AW14, Paris.
With surreal embellished prawns and dresses covered in cut up cans and old coins, the Maison Martin Margiela couture collection was filled with bright and shiny details. Aside from these more superficial elements, there were also carefully considered construction details to provide cleaner lines in amongst the more outlandish garments.