Week 10- Speaking Photographically.
This week have to consider the works of Daniel Gustav Kramer how it evolved over time and how his work is contextualized. How my own practice can be evaluated and critically reflected on.
Trilogy, (Woodland,Underwater and Mountain) was inspired by another practitioner Giordi Morandi, who was a landscape painter, whose work was similarly void of human occupation and not geographically positioned.
Gustav’s Trilogy, was also built around some common themes: namely nature uncontaminated. The series ranges from the depths of ocean floor, through forest to mountain peaks. All of which are uninhabited and unpolluted by the human species and was produced and developed over many years from 2003 to 2013. His worked developed as time went on. He started in the deserted forest, then moved to the ocean depths, then to the mountains. All three locations have the same theme: isolation, timelessness and non specific locations.
From a historical standpoint, both Morandi and Cramers work is unknown to us. By looking at both these artists work, there is nothing to reference time. I do find the ‘black hole’ interesting [Fig.1.] It could index death or the unknown. Cramer stops here, afraid to go forward. Malevich stopped at black square. Blake and Gödel looked into that realm, they went past the threshold mathematically and poetically. In my own practice, I am also at this ‘gate.’ For me there is no blackness or darkness beyond. I have ‘seen’ into that realm with my intuition, therefore I use the fence as the barrier as opposed to a wall a black hole or a black plane as is the case with Malevich and Cramer. For me there is a whole other world beyond that blackness. Like with the fence, one can see through it, one can have an idea of what’s beyond. One has no idea what’s beyond the black hole of Cramers image Fig.1. below other than faint tree trunks and foliage, but beyond that, darkness and the unknown still prevails.
In the work of William Eggelston for example, there are many human made artifacts with which to reference time and place. For example the image below (Fig.2) has a 1969 Ford Torino on the right, this can reference historically when the photo was made, in addition the license plate can let us know what state the car is from, as well as what year those plates were made. There are many other visual clues in the image as well, that can easily point time and place. Especially by someone who owns the store, or lives in that town.
In Cramers Trilogy there is no human contamination. The sense of time is erased and geographical location is also difficult if not impossible to pinpoint.
In terms of my own practice, I can see some parallels, between Cramers work and my own. Firstly that my abstractions have developed over time as well, however it moved from the objective to the abstract, whereas Cramers moved from Underwater to Mountain. In my practice abstraction is the image itself, with Cramer his abstractum is achieved by what is left out of the image, or beyond the frame. In my work, human intervention is there, but is minimal and indexed by a single strand of barbed wire fencing joined by someone?
This gives some clue to human activity and denotes that boundary between human and nature, body and mind, objective representation and non-objective abstraction. It is amazing just how powerful a single strand of wire can be be. It keeps out human and animal.
Source and post an interview.
Interview with Harry Callahan. An artist whose work I like because he can “dance” between representational and abstract images. One of the few practitioners to be successful at it. Harry was a protege of Ansel Adams and Stieglitz. He was informed by Ansel’s work, but came to his own realization that he could photograph a footprint in the sand and achieve sand dunes; he did not have to go to Yellowstone to get an image. This ability to work anywhere has always been of interest to me.
This is something I have always aspired to, which has recently come to fruition. Much like the painter at the studio, the writer at the typewriter. Works that can be done on a very small foot print and close to home.
Callahan felt that rich experiences with meaning nourished his practice and photography. Callahan’s intent was simple: “I just wanted to make a picture.” When he got tired of photographing landscapes, he moved to the city, when he got tired of the city he moved onto abstracts. This is something I really admire about him and use it in my own practice.