Saturday, August 28, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Emma Hogarth

In homage to analog methods of achieving special effects, Hogarth seeks the role of the viewing lens as both window and optical device. Compound Focus is a series of video portraits shot through a slab of glass. The glass bears a dappled texture that comes from chill marks when molten, slightly bubbled glass is poured onto cool graphite. This texture distorts the image of the subjects who picture is being shot, and like a special effects filter, gives them a painterly effect that is reminiscent of Impressionist painting styles that were highly influential on the Pictorialist movement.

The artist says, "Pictorialist photographers, active around the turn of the twentieth century, subscribed to the idea that art photography needed to emulate the painting and etching of the time. Their photographs were characterized by atmospheric effects achieved by using soft focus, special filters, lens coatings and experimental printing processes. By using the material qualities of glass to achieve a painterly effect in a digital video work," Hogarth draws our attention to the role of glass in development of optical and imaging technologies.

In an interesting flip of technological sensibility, she transfers the effect of a still camera to the context of a moving image. The subjects move very slowly and the slight shifts in light are transmitted through the glass membrane cum lens cum filter. Yet the image formed in one's mind is of still nature. In contrast to artist Betsy Dadd's video, which unpacks the moment of a the work provides an interesting connection between old, (rendered) obsolete media, materiality and new media.

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