The Photographic "I"


Peaches, 1999-2002 (artist rendering) Archival pigment prints; Installation dimensions variable; 100 individually; ramed prints, 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6cm) each; Edition of 5, 1 AP


Peaches, 1999-2002 (artist rendering)
Archival pigment prints; Installation dimensions variable; 100 individually; ramed prints, 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6cm) each; Edition of 5, 1 AP

Roland Barthes has said "What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially…By nature, the Photograph has something tautological about it: a pipe, here, is always and intractably a pipe".

The idea that a photograph is an endlessly reproducible, objective record of the camera's "eye" which in turn serves as a surrogate eye for the viewer sets up a certain attitude towards the photographic medium. This supposition brings with it certain expectations about the viewer's perspective vis-a-vis the photograph in question. What is implicit in this statement is that the position of the eye / "I" of the viewer must comply with that of the artificial eye of the camera. This raises the issue of the intentional perspective of "the gaze". According to Walter Benjamin, the camera has the ability to capture that which the human eye cannot perceive. Mapplethorpe utilizes these theoretical suppositions and turns them on end to challenge his audience towards a greater level of consciousness.

The following examples are elements of larger installations that have been conceived as individual works. Though seemingly disparate in subject matter, each of these installations tweaks the viewer's pre-conceived definition and understanding while attempting to subsequently open the mind to alternate possibilities. Mapplethorpe's portraits of babies taken on the occasion of their first birthday (and solely identified by the time of their birth) contradicts the idea of a baby as a formless, blank slate waiting to be molded. By targeting a particular moment in time he attempts to illustrate the scope of possibility and in fact when seen together, these children exude an astonishingly developed level of personality and range of physical attributes.

Peaches address the definition of photography as an endlessly replicating process. Again, the artist has selected one element to address the issue of reproduction and originality as they relate to perception. This installation includes photographs of 100 different peaches, installed along a single line around the perimeter of a room or grouped in a grid formation of 10 x 10 rows. At first glance one may assume the 100 images repeat a single photograph, yet it is only upon closer inspection that it becomes apparent that each subject is subtly unique.

Portfolio II can be addressed in relation to the idea of the gaze. Here, Mapplethorpe has appropriated mass-printed pornographic photographs and re-configured them into a portfolio of fragmented images, riffing off the relationship between pornography and photography.

(L) Tuesday, February 15, 2005; 5:32pm. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP (C) Wednesday, November 6, 2002; 4:45pm. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP (R) Tuesday, November 28, 2006; 3:27am. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP

(L) Tuesday, February 15, 2005; 5:32pm. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP
(C) Wednesday, November 6, 2002; 4:45pm. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP
(R) Tuesday, November 28, 2006; 3:27am. Gelatin silver print, 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm), Edition of 3, 1 AP

Mally, 1996 Gelatin silver print; 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP

Mally, 1996
Gelatin silver print; 24x20" (61 x 50.8cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP

(L) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm) (C) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm) (R) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm)

(L) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm)
(C) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm)
(R) Portfolio II, 1997. Gelatin silver print; 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.32cm); Edition of 10, 2 AP, also edition of 5: 7 x 5" (17.78 x 12.7cm)

Peaches (detail), 1999-2002 Archival pigment prints; 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6cm) each; Edition of 5, 1 AP

Peaches (detail), 1999-2002
Archival pigment prints; 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6cm) each; Edition of 5, 1 AP