I am a sucker for highly detailed, painstakingly realistic, still life paintings. Particularly those of John Walley, detailed and loving studies of seemingly mundane objects, objects elevated to prominence by the skill of the artist. In each of his tempera works, nostalgia and memory enview his objects with a sense of memory, place, and time. You connect to these object even though you have never touched them.
Episode #108: Florian Maier-Aichen likens his use of infrared film to an in-between state, discussing photography’s role in picturing the American West and its ability to confound past and present.
Alternately romantic, cerebral, and unearthly, Florian Maier-Aichen’s digitally altered photographs are closer to the realm of drawing and fiction than documentation. He embraces difficult techniques, chooses equipment that produces accidents such as light leaks and double exposures, and uses computer enhancements to introduce imperfections and illogical elements into images that paradoxically “feel” visually right, though they are factually wrong. Often employing an elevated viewpoint (the objective but haunting “God’s-eye view” of aerial photography and satellite imaging), Maier-Aichen creates idealized, painterly landscapes that function like old postcards. Interested in places where landscape and cityscape meet, he chooses locations and subjects from the American West and Europe—from his own neighborhoods to vistas of the natural world. Looking backwards for his influences, Maier-Aichen often reenacts or pays homage to the work of the pioneer photographers of the nineteenth century, sometimes even remaking their subject matter from their original standpoints. Always experimenting, he marries digital technologies with traditional processes and films (black-and-white, color, infrared, and tricolor), restoring and reinvigorating the artistry and alchemy of early photography.
I came across Stephanie Craig’s ceramic sculptures in college when researching artists who worked in altered forms and unique finishes. Her series Specimen Collection also peaked my interest because of it’s play to cabinets of curiosities. Their forms and surfaces play immediately on the desire to look, collect and categorize. They way she presents them, little collections in lined wood cases, gives a wonder sense of a museum specimen. It’s pseudo-scientific but plays on notions of value and artifact in such a wonderful way. You can’t help but to want to touch them, hold them close in hand and inspect their surface and wonder about their story and history. All that genuine sense of the real and sense of awe comes from a manufactured clay object. Those forms, surface and presentation truly make you question where those impulses come from.
How could you not want to touch them and understand where they came from. The combination of uniqueness and the unknown, drives the impulse to understand, to collect and organize. On display it truly looks a collection from a small museum, put out for guests to observe and wonder.