KHFA exhibition archives

On or About the (Uncanny) Double "World"

New work by Bryan Florentin
October 8–November 19, 2022
Reception Saturday, October 8, 5:00–7:00 pm
Artist will be in attendance
Gallery hours on opening day noon–7:00

Statement from the artist:

Photographs are generally two-dimensional images. When the content of a photograph is a single flat surface, those two dimensions are reinforced. Such photographs are clearly less common than the ones that produce a limited illusion of three-dimensionality. Those characteristics of photographs are a given and have been since the advent of Niépce's visually flat heliographic reproductions of engravings, and the illusory depth engendered by the single-point perspective view from his window as rendered, faintly, on a pewter plate.

Prepared Shelves 3.3

In addition to the dimensionality inherited from the first photographs, technology today allows for ever larger photographs, which can change how they would otherwise operate. For example, most of the prints in this exhibition are 1:1 scale, which increases the already inherent verisimilitude of most photographs.

My recent "Prepared Shelves" series is an extension of my work referencing W.H.F. Talbot's photographs of shelves loaded with books, china, plaster casts, etc. To determine what I place on shelves and where, my primary criteria are whether certain objects can be wedged into spaces left around and between other objects, a process that involves a degree of chance. When the spaces are filled in, the outcome is a collection of sometimes disparate objects and materials. One side of the shelves displays pronounced visual depth. Almost everything on that side is arranged to produce the appearance of flatness on the opposite side, where every element is essentially occupying the picture plane.

The frames for most of the "Prepared Shelves" series closely match the gray shelves within the photograph. In that way, the frames function as extensions of the imagery as well as containers for it, which along with the 1:1 size, further enhances the mimetic quality of the photographs.

Recently, I've been pushing the shelving over after photographing it from both sides, allowing it to crash onto an approximately 30-degree incline of plywood, then photographing the result from overhead. That act of setting something in motion then allowing gravity and the force generated by the collision to rearrange the elements prompted the series title Prepared Shelves, a reference to Cage's prepared piano pieces and to his extensive use of chance operations.

Contemporary photographic technologies complicate definitions of what constitutes a photograph. When I photographed a 42"-wide row of art periodicals pressed tightly together as seen on the page edge side, the result was a series of thin stripes 10.5" high. Stretching the vertical dimension to 84" while leaving the width of the page edges 1:1 results in something reminiscent of a minimalist painting. It's still a photograph, but one in which massive distortion of the image doesn't necessarily appear distorted: a line is a line, not matter how long. What were pages that could be turned and read, indeed held, is reduced to a flat plane of vertical lines on a thin but rigid flat surface. That photograph and everything else in this exhibition deals with, among other things, the relationship between the photograph as image, the photograph as object, and the material reality that it often mimics.

Prepared Shelves 2.3
Prepared Shelves 2.4 (detail)