A Collection of City Thoughts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Observer Effect

(A short preview I wrote for Rouge Concept Gallery. Check it out if you're in the east-end. Some gorgeous work.)

Observer Effect

May 4-30, 2010
Kathleen Finlay, Renato Foti, Kevin Kelly, Stephanie Kretzschmer, Kagame Murray, Sean Carl Newman, William Porper, Andrew Tomkins

In the realm of Quantum Theory there is a notion known as the Observer Effect: the belief that an object or phenomenon cannot exist until it is first observed. Though grounded in scientific theory, the Observer Effect opens the mind to a series of philosophical quandaries; perhaps the most common being the old riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” In other words, can something truly exist without being perceived? When we begin to look at the world through the Observer Effect, we ultimately begin to understand the inseparability of the observer from the observed and the role of consciousness in the construct of reality.

Photography as a technological medium is based on the principle of reproducing reality through image. In contemporary art, however, this can take multiple forms. A photographer can choose to document reality by simply capturing the image before him; he can also distort or abstract the image from its own reality; he can even create a new reality altogether, freeing the image entirely.

The photographers in Observer Effect, the latest CONTACT Group Exhibition at Rouge Concept Gallery, each investigate these methods through their own personal aesthetics. Two themes serve as undercurrents for this show. The first: Notions of Abstraction – familiar subjects seem unfamiliar through tonal and textural values, shadow play, close-ups and experimentation with light and time exposure.

Such is the case in the work of Kevin Kelly, whose photographs of wooden bulls-eye targets and vintage pin-up posters are transferred to large sheets of metal to create an altered reality of the original. Similarly, Sean Carl Newman, whose photographs delve into the intensely personal world of false memory, has reclaimed negatives from the 1960's as his source of play. By manipulating, scratching and then redeveloping his negatives, Newman creates a tactile world out of an absent and removed one. The second theme, Magic and Mystery, is brought to life in A Clown Story, a photographic series by Kathleen Finlay that tells the tale of a Clown’s cosmic journey to relight the stars. Using digital and Polaroid film, Finlay offers us, as observers, a surrealist feast for the senses.

Observer Effect is part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and runs from May 4-30, 2010.