JODI L. ROBBINS
SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN – MASTER OF ARTS – 2012
A found still-life scene presents an interesting paradigm: it did not look that way yesterday and it will not look this way tomorrow. Extreme beauty can be found in the ever-changing scenery of the urban landscape. Without upkeep and care, both the constructions and constructs of society change and slowly revert back to a natural state of nonexistence. The images in this series are an examination of nature and culture and are intended to challenge the putative stability of human systems of culture and knowledge.
This series shows abandoned scenes and still-life objects that were undoubtedly left for one reason or another. The photographic attention is placed on the relation between nature and culture. The results of this relationship between nature and societal constructs are scenes of beautiful textures, compelling linear designs and unnatural color theory that are all presented as a reminder of change, progression and reclamation.
There is a poetic relationship between the subjects found in the imagery. There is juxtaposition between our organized norms of culture—linguistic and numeric systems, shapes, and manmade societal structures—and the reclamation of nature. Throughout the series, a progressive examination of the defeat of the cultural is evident as is the failure of humankind to control and manipulate the natural environment with physical constructions and superimposed sign systems.
The photographic process enhances the uniqueness and texture of the imagery for this series. The photographs in this series are ‘as is’ just as the found still lifes are as they are. By choosing not to manipulate the images I provide a degree of matter-of-factness and objectivity. While the concepts and process relate well in regards to correlating visual choices, there are also relationships between the imagery and the history of art and photography more specifically.
The photographic works of Walker Evans and Uta Barth are important influences for this series. While this is an uncommon mix of style and theory, all have important connections for societal commentary as well as stylistic choices.
Duchamp, a well-known and controversial artist who presented ready-made sculptures as art saw interesting aspects in everyday items. Works such as Bicycle Wheel (1913 and again in 1951) and Fountain (1917) are influential to the series as they show how an object can be appreciated for its inherent beauty and presented as-is in art form. Duchamp’s idea of expanding the definition of art is an inspiration.
Man Ray is another artist from the Dada/Surrealism movement that is inspirational. His self-proclaimed Rayographs have a delicate juxtaposition of unrelated objects to form a visually interesting relationship. This example of relationships is important as it presents a consideration of what different objects mean when they are placed next to other unrelated objects.
Our culture and the human systems we abide by have been represented in the photographs of Walker Evans. He photographed not only the culture and societal norms of an era but also the systems of language that shape a culture. Signage, religious structures, and societal classes are all examined in Evans’ work.
Contemporary photographer Uta Barth uses multiple piece images to communicate her intentions of change. While Barth uses this method to signify time and change broadly, this idea was incorporated into my series to signify decomposition and deterioration more specifically.
This series incorporates historical references as well as techniques and style to enhance the imagery message. The imagery focuses on the societal trends of implemented order and systems as well as on the ever changing beauty found in the deterioration of these same items.
As a society, we have built systems and order—from communications such as language and numeral systems to governmental systems and societal classes. To question these systems and to examine the reclamation of nature is to actively address the concern of the stability of our placed systems. The implemented systems of language and numbers of our society do not equal survival or stability. The post apocalyptic ideas presented in this series address the concerns of the stability of our systems and the transfer of knowledge.
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2. Fineberg, Jonathan David. Art since 1940: Strategies of Being. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2000. Print.
3. Flusser, Vilém. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. London: Reaktion, 2000. Print.
4. Weintraub, Linda. In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art. New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art, 2003. Print.
5. Wells, Liz. The Photography Reader. London: Routledge, 2003. Print.