In order to get to the post I want to make, I feel like I need to lay some background. So please bear with me for a few posts.
Earlier in the decade I used to experiment a lot with what I called “washes,” puddles of paint, ink, and watercolor that I’d photograph to capture the wet effects that only persisted before the puddle dried:
“Photograph of a Wet Painting” 2002
While this was a practical solution to a problem I had getting the image I wanted, it presented new issues of representation that my mind loved.
Paint is a medium of representation. It was used in lieu of photographs for hundreds of years, but here the paint can’t be counted on to represent itself. It requires the photograph to lock in it’s form. At the same time, the photograph couldn’t capture this image without the paint. Both media needed each other to be able to create this form of art.
Anybody who follows me on Twitter may have caught my spiel on Postmodernity on Friday and why this is relevant, but I’ll spare you that.
While this was the first time I delved into the subject, it’s definitely not the first time it’s come up (especially in the postmodernist age).
Whenever you see paintings in books, pamphlets or online, you are seeing photographs of them. Its necessary, but there is distance between the viewer and the piece. A few weeks ago I had problems because the photo of the piece I took gave a very misleading image of the piece in question. That is, the photograph poorly represented the painting. So the relationship in the previous post is actually endemic to our contemporary art experience. Its just that when done well, nobody recognizes it.
In photorealism you have the opposite relationship. The painting requires a photograph. When Robert Bechtle painted a station wagon, he was referencing the type of snapshot a family might take. He turned the throw away image into something more grand by painting the image much larger: his painting required the photo as much as the paint.
So there’s a long history of this relationship, beyond my entrance into the dialogue
For those interested in seeing what a man looking like an 80s male porn star would look like doing cheesy art with similar relationships between media, I give you:
Next I’ll go through the next level of representation.