ARCHITECTURE: PLACES TRANSFORMED THROUGH TIME
JANUARY 11 – FEBRUARY 5, 2020
“Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.” – I. M. Pei
The oldest surviving product of a photographic process, the first known photograph, View from the Window at Le Gras, presents a fascinating insight into one of humanity’s well-established curiosities early on in the history of photography, the importance of recording the constructed environment. Throughout artistic mediums, the subject of architecture has framed the narratives and developments of some of history’s most defining moments. The buildings and structures that encapsulate society’s stories are essential cultural manifestations. The ability to capture these environments, their transformation through time, and their influence as stages for human dramas to unfold become legacies of human achievement. With the advent of increasingly advanced photographic technology, artists continue to question the transformation and understanding of “places” through a temporal lens.
Drawing from the gallery’s selective collection of current artists, contemporary photographers Michael Eastman, Andre Lichtenberg, Stephen Wilkes, Karen Knorr, and Michael Massaia are exhibited as photographers who use places and their transformations as a subject in their work. These photographers use their unique aesthetic to explore the effect of time on a range of settings around the world, engaging differently in visualizing the passage of time, as evidenced through physical structures.
Michael Eastman is the most literal of the four photographers. Eastman’s deliberate, frontal perspectives allow for places to speak for themselves; he lets the evidence of what sites look like, after time and use, to hint at the unique stories hidden behind their physical imperfections and personal impressions. Eastman’s photographs linger in mind, carrying with them mysterious narratives that portray the ultimate fascination of human touch.
Andre Lichtenberg’s cerebral approach of abstracting cityscapes creates collective linear forms of urban neighborhoods from around the globe. Lichtenberg’s careful consideration and abstraction of the landscape provides highly detailed, composite images that bridge science and art. Lichtenberg’s pictures allow for freedom of expression, creating layered, textured images that feel almost palpable and reflect a place both imagined and real.
Stephen Wilkes’s creates the heightened ability to see day and night in one image. Wilkes’s pictures montage the seemingly random events that happen throughout the day with a more extended, complex matrix involving human drama and set within the urban environment, the buildings, and structures that support human activity. Wilke’s large format photographs study the impact citizens have on their surroundings and conversely creates a collection of human experiences throughout the day.
Michael Massaia’s nocturnal, poetic photographs often have as much emphasis on nature as they do on human-made structures. Massaia’s hand-crafted images capture the quietude and isolation of the city during the hushed hours of the early morning, emanating with the quiet visual hum of a long exposure photographs. The structures Massaia records become dramatic sets waiting to be brought to life, creating new possibilities for reimagining the tranquility of the place and overcoming the cacophony of the city.
Karen Knorr’s composite photography creates illusions of exotic animals inside luxurious and elaborate, often sacred interior spaces. Knorr’s work engages in the visuals of parables and mythologies; her constructed photographs examine and question the appearance of wild animals in aristocratic spaces. Knorr’s pictures ultimately explore the legacies of built structures and the cultural and traditional implications of architecture, creating complex, open-ended narratives on the heritage that built environments carry with them.
These photographers collectively harmonize and reimagine the structures and environments society has built or valued in their unique usage. They all have a depth of understanding of architectural structures and expressively use photography to celebrate the collective human experience.