Figure & Form
Studies of and in the figurative genre
Figure & Form is the culmination of studies spanning over the course of 5 years. Each volume is a new study exploring elements of genre of figure photography.
The ubiquity of figurative work in any genre can not be denied. I’ve felt myself pulled toward it regularly over the years. But I can not deny the dubiousness of the genre, the dichotomy between the formal and the carnal.
These volumes all try to explore facets of that dichotomy while still invoking the spirit of the study and exploration of the medium. There are many questions embedded in these works, questions which I do not profess to have answers for, this body of work has been and seeks to be a learning experience.
This series was the starting point of what would become this collection of work. A project started while and undergrad.
When exploring the medium of photography and the figurative genre it is important to point out the significance Polaroid played. Polaroid made it possible, for the first time, to take nude images privately without having one’s own darkroom in their basement. For those who search for old images, there is such a plethora of Polaroids of this nature that it begins to feel ubiquitous with the format.
With ubiquity comes inadvertent anonymity. A quality I feel is prevalent in the figurative genre as a whole, a quality that lends itself highly to accusations of objectification. Many of these series in this body of work seek to explore these elements through exaggerating them, bringing them to the forefront. These question the idea of identity by obliterating that oh so universal identifying feature. With that being done how do these images stack against others in the genre.
Scannography is the practice of using a flatbed scanner in lieu of a traditional camera. This series, as some others in the collection, also utilizes appropriation. This series is an exploration of the figure study, thus so the images were appropriated from an old figure study reference book. The images were placed on the scanner, and manipulated by hand during the scanning process. The result is distortions achieved through a combination of digital and analog means.
The idea of the figure study is held in high regard, it is a process of studying the medium, an age old tradition. In that sense, what role does the figure play? Is it merely the ideal vessel for the study of form, tone, gradient, and other technical elements? If that is the case, do these distorted images meet the same criteria the defines the genre?
The second series utilizing appropriation, this series seeks to look deeper and the formal vs the carnal. The figurative genre is not without divide; there are those parties who claim it is a pure formal genre, and those that claim it is entirely lecherous. This series seeks to pull in extremes of both of those sides, to even to playing field, to allow for an analytical process. The appropriated images span from what those would call highly formal to what those would call pornographic. All images were rephotographed and printed several degrees out of focus. They were additionally developed by brush to create the flowing effect you see. With detail obscured, and these images reduced to formal qualities, composition, light, shadow, etc. are they still decreeable as fitting onto either side of this divide? Are notions of sexuality still conveyed?