Sunday, February 3, 2013

McGuire Photograph Circa 1980

This is an vintage Michael McGuire photograph I made while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. I uncovered it recently and I've had it on display in my living room for the last few months because I like it, and I think it is a intriguing photo that deserves further contemplation. It has prompted much thinking about the correlations between my old work and the art I make now, and I've picked up on a few connections. College was my first foray into semi-serious art making. At the time photography was my main focus and I was fascinated with flash photography specifically. For a time there I would employ it in all my photo work and particularly indoors as a fill in flash. The effect seemed very 'photographic', and the flattening effect seemed to make things otherworldly. At the same time the photo has a very strict 'one point perspective', of the type I would learn later in my academic career. The formality of the composition and the way the lane lines all converge on the swimmers belly button reinforce that perspective. At the time this photograph challenged for me the widely accepted belief that a photo was a direct and true record of the world. The fill-in flash would flattened the back ground to the point that it would often look like a false, flat backdrop, and anything in the foreground looked more 3D in comparison. My work for the last few years has been an ongoing exploration of the depiction of three dimensions in a two dimensional format. I move back and forth between art that depicts, through various means (perspective drawing, illusionistic drawing...) the illusion of depth, and art that is declares its flatness conspicuously. My current series of 'Flags' are all about the surface of the collage, using the flag iconography as a template for and exploration of surface, tone and texture. From my perspective this photograph of a swimmer at the University of Wisconsin natatorium is a beginning of the exploration between the two contradictory states of 'dimensionality'.

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