Why only three? Because it’s 50% more auspicious than two, of course.
I’m hoping the text will make this obvious, but as always, the disclaimer: the images on this page are mine and don’t be confused that they in any way refer to the artists I’m talking about.
Click the links to see. …
One further disclaimer that ought not to be necessary – I have only the slightest and most cursory education about art history, art theory, art appreciation or any of that. My opinions very much reflect those of an outsider who dabbles in creating images with a camera, and it’s really more of a hobby than an avocation, so when I see something my reaction tends to be reflexive and very subjective. Something appeals to me or it doesn’t, and sometimes I can tell you why and sometimes I can’t, but if something is interesting I’m willing to talk about it and point it out to you.
ㅁ Yahoo News put up a page recently about Paul Cadden, an artist residing in Glasgow – which means he’s a Glaswegian, and that’s such a very cool word, it makes me wish I was one, too – and his gimmick is that he draws things with pencils that look like photographs. Now, when I use that word it sounds disparaging or even condescending, but that likely means there are things going on that I need some education about. Seems to be part of a late 20th century art movement called hyperrealism, and while many artists will juxtapose objects that will never be found together, or use oil or acrylic to present colors in a way that looks more real than reality, what happens with Cadden’s pencil works are that they are so similar to photographs that I find myself wondering why he didn’t just save some time and take a picture. (In fact, most hyperrealists do start with a photographic image and work from that, then enhance, emphasize something or insert elements not originally there, and in Cadden’s case I’d be interested to see the original images he worked from.) Basically, just me, there are instances where things are simply too realistic to be interesting.
ㅁ Someone I personally find more appealing is Laurie Lipton, who does a lot of her work with the same tools, pencil on paper, though I doubt that photographs are involved in her process much because there is nothing realistic going here, hyper or otherwise. Instead, there’s a morbid fascination with bizarre images of incipient violence, death, and weirdly fantastic landscapes, usually titled with sardonic irony. At times, true, we descend into gothic comic-book realms – I don’t find skeletons and skulls to be quite such a source of fascination, personally – but even that I find to be tolerable in most cases. Here’s a YouTube video that combines a slideshow of her work with some creepy opera-type music.
ㅁ The third artist doesn’t use pencils, though she does use paper, both to print her photos in the darkroom and to create her self-bound books. Lauren Rabbit (nee Simonutti) hails from Chicago. Actually, according to her blog, titled The Madness is the Method, a sketchbook is part of the initial stage of her projects, so I guess she belongs on this page. She claims to be housebound and solitary, and perhaps (like the images she produces) more than merely eccentric – it seems she went deaf in one ear and sometime later started hearing voices in it. She has quite a lot of stuff over at DeviantArt, and likewise at her Flickr page. I find her work most satisfactorily viewed here, with the Flickriver ap, or here, at Megashot.
Her titles are dark: “Damned before noon,” and “Baby and the bathwater” and “she knew the game was fixed, but played anyway” and “chaos is a god with no reflection.” A lot of what we see are still-life arrangements, even when using herself or someone as a model, the identity is usually obscured, objectifying and dehumanizing. The dominant color is black, unsurprisingly, with occasional earth tones in yellow brown or sepia. She shoots in black & white, on large-format cameras, and claims to do no image manipulation outside of the darkroom (though at least some show exif info referring to Adobe Photoshop).
She also creates books, by which I mean that she designs, binds and then assembles a book with paper and prints of her photographs arranged in a particular way like a three-dimensional collage that you can open and turn the pages of. It is not publishing, but rather the creation of an artifact, signed and numbered in a limited series, and she doesn’t make it until you ask for one and send her the money for the materials. She doesn’t even keep one for herself, but rather sends the original template to a museum for preservation.