Abstract Abstraction

September 27, 2011

Continuing from yesterday, I think I mostly summed up the conundrum thanks to Adam in the title of this post–the question of what abstract means now, and what it means when representational images are “abstract.”  And I should be clear here that I’m not talking the Steiglitz or Russian Futurist methods of distorting the actual until it appears abstract, but rather producing photographs from materials that are themselves abstract: pieces of paper, either plain, drawn on, or painted.  In every case the image produced is a faithful reproduction of a nonrepresentational object, which means it collapses back into representation.  There’s no getting outside of the idea of  observation inherent in photography.  (Or even flatbed scanning.)

But the documentation I’m producing right now not only goes further (incidentally) than other historical attempts because I’ve given up on the idea of “abstracting” as a verb and chosen “abstraction” as a gerund instead, a thing instead of an act, but it also does so in a medium that can never be abstract, not in an authentic way that a plain piece of paper is abstract, because of the act of “pointing at” that photography demands.  So what exactly am I doing?

I’m not quite sure.  The images I’m producing work as a stand-in for a particular historical era of painterly or conceptual abstraction but the key thing is that they’re frauds; they’re not the real deal but a copy of it, an approximation.  In the images below, all I did was paint a plain piece of copier paper with turquoise paint, let the wet paint curl the paper, then cut and scan the flat field I produced leaving the scanner lid open so what was flat, authentic abstraction becomes, by virtue of paper curl and photography, an illusion.  The light and shadow and color shifts in the images are all false, accidental byproducts of willfully improper ways of documenting “true” abstraction, which along with the broken grid in the post below is, I think, the way to go for now, by questioning the plasticity and authenticity of an authentically abstract object as well as the ability of the camera/scanner to “capture” abstraction.


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