Layer Three: Attempted Representation
Once an artist completes their final marks, the art is out of their hands. It takes on a life of its own after being put into the world, and it is given the ability to sever itself from its creator and original form. I was curious to hear the opinions of these artists in relation to how their art is presented outside its original context, asking how an artist accepts and coexists with the presentation of a physical work in photograph (one layer removed so to speak)?
Jon Goebel initially focused on the visceral experience of viewing a work in person. There is depth to the human eye that cannot be entirely replicated in photo, and distinct experiences like seeing the platmark on a print or being able to smell the ink are irreplicable in a photograph of the same piece.
He likened replications/photography of his work to the beginnings of printmaking. Printmaking is, fundamentally, a representation. It began as a way for artists to replicate paintings to sell to a wider audience. Now, these photographs can cast that wider next, and printmaking has evolved into its own distinct artform.
Doug Bosley brings up an interesting dilemma when sharing photographs of work, explaining how expectations of scale are difficult to get right. However, Bosley notes this is not an automatically negative effect. Simply, the work changes.
Bosely uses Salvador Dali as an example, saying, “On books, you get this impression that his work is huge, but then it’s this really intimate, nice little painting.” Photographs can create tension with a preconceived notion when you build up an image in your mind, so viewing them in person will inevitably be different from the photo.
Bosley and Goebel have shared sentiments on photography, acknowledging it’s necessary in today’s art world, with Bosley saying “Sharing photographs, reproductions, books, or catalogs will go farther… It’s really fun to see when things start to trickle back.”
With a sculpture like Red Dragon, photography of the work guarantees some impossibility of representation.Two dimensional can only go so far when capturing a three dimensional, so any given photo of the piece can only reach towards the true depth and scale of viewing the work in person.
However, Kate Wilson is not discouraged by the limitations of photography. The ability to engage a new audience member through sharing photographs of her work overpowers the inability to wholly represent a single piece. She also takes advantage of multiple photographs, with each angle designed to showcase dimensional details.
It often feels like an excuse is needed before we are allowed any indulgence. It takes an anniversary to get two desserts instead of one, a clouded mind to take the long way home, a recent ticket to take it slow, and a torturous week to finally take one day off. Justification comes in all forms, and in many ways, these interviews were exactly that.
Layer on Layer gave freedom of interpretation to the artists, given the opportunity to showcase work intimately tied to both physical and metaphorical layers. I jumped at the same opportunity, taking the chance to explore these artists’ minds both before and beyond their finished work.
When given the opportunity to research, dig, and inquire, the how is just as fascinating as the resulting what.
My special thanks to Jon, Doug, and Kate for their generosity in entertaining my curiosity and patience in the time it took to complete this piece.
Last week: Layer Two: Process Connection