Friday, May 9, 2008

Fictional spaces; stranger-than-fiction life

4-5 May 2008

The last stop of the evening was Scalo/Guye for a show of photography by Daniele Albright – if you could legitimately call it that. The blurb on the invite described them as “photographs” yet “not photographic documents” in the same breath. The title for the show was Fictional Spaces. Well, having just come from the Crewdson luau, I felt I was ready to address a fresh take without reconfiguring my entire explication d’image m.o. But there is ‘fiction’; and then there is le nouveau romanà la Robbe-Grillet (You’d think I’d know something about this. Apparently not enough.) I’m not sure about the fictional stuff. The images were definitely distorted, blurred (in both exposure and printing processes), cropped both horizontally and vertically, segmented laterally, and irregularly staggered with respect to each segment. Something about the four-segment photograph(s) of undulating, ice-blue ocean waves reminded me a little of Vija Celmins, both in comparison and contrast – the fixation of it (in more than one sense), as opposed to Celmins’ obsessive hyper-attentive rendering. But Albright’s point also seemed to undermine the notion of fixation. You had the sense of an abruptly shifting viewpoint, foregrounded, if not about to be submerged or pushed outside the conceptual ‘frame’, within a space that was both shallow and deep – reaching to a horizon-line not quite encompassed in the shot. In other words – now you’re treading water; now you’re, uh, NOWHERE; or perhaps just OUT THERE. Now, here’s the title: “these propagations and interfaces continue to multiply their interactions.” Ohhhhh-kaaaayyy. I have to ask: It’s in four panels. Just how many interactions were we supposed to see? I’m thinking the very deliberate discontinuities give the lie to this. The invite blurb further refined Albright’s photographic method and approach as “reformulations of perception that suspend the visual field between the known and the impossible.” Gee – sounds like some of the legal briefs I’ve glanced over within the last few months. (Oh yeah: the OTHER GUYS’.)

In general, I thought the longer panoramic, ‘horizon-line’ pieces (in four or five segments) were the strongest – though in no way did they compel a reconsideration of my phenomenology (hey – I studied with Heidegger’s English translator, donch’ya know?). Speaking of panoramas, I was just as taken with some of the dark, almost brutal, yet eerily beautiful landscapes and cityscapes of Balthasar Burkhard – whose show is scheduled to close at the end of the month. Somebody remind me to look at Resnais’ L’année dernière à Marienbad again – or maybe just about any Robbe-Grillet novel, any one of which might read as a straight transcription of the facts of my stranger-than-fiction life, lately.

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