The negative image has been of interest for some time- for example I have tried digitally blending abstract positive and negative video clips with a variety of blend modes. Recently I stepped back and tried something simpler – combining positive and negative projections of slides with the aim of creating a grey image..
I was interested in the way in which bodies or objects shadowing the projections could then create positive or negative images of their own, but what turned out to be as intriguing was the effect of cancellation – which is imperfect. This kind of faint grey image seeping through seems like a liminal image. An image on the threshold of visibility.
Thomas Ruff states that he became interested in the negative after making photograms. For me it was the other way around.
A photogram is also a negative .
The disappearence of the negative as a tool of reproduction is also a time when it becomes a thing of interest in itself.
Ruff made his negatives from historical sepia toned positives, so the negative appears blue. Reversing the positive back into the original point of reproduction.
I’m interested in the materiality of the negative and also the general aesthetic qualities also discussed by Ruff.
Unfamiliar tonality, reversal etc.
to quote George Baker’s The Black Mirror – on Paul Sietsema. (October 158, Fall 2016) on the negative again.
“suspended between negative and positive, Degas’ between images body forth the negative as medium, middle space relay between photograph and object, camera and image. But in this ‘medium’ we find something medium specificity was never supposed to allow: the opening, through inversion, of photography to film, drawing, writing, even to sculpture ( as cast, double, ….it is this afterimage of the afterimage, this opening of the open image, that Sietsema has claimed in his play with the negative today.”
Not light and dark but opacity and transparency – the negative
White Cube description
Elad Lassry creates or rediscovers images from a vast array of sources, redeploying them in a variety of media, including photography, film, drawing and sculpture. Despite the diversity of his approach, Lassry has developed one of the most distinctive visual idioms in contemporary art and a rigorously focussed practice that investigates the nature of our perception and the meaning of the contemporary image.
Lassry describes his pictures, which are all exactly the same scale, as ‘something that’s suspended between a sculpture and an image’. The artist achieves this through a play of virtual and actual space. The image in each picture proposes a virtual space, while the frame, which is not a supplement to the image but an extension of it, carves out an actual space for the object to occupy. The images might be found – anything from a magazine snapshot to a Hollywood headshot – or photographed in studio conditions that reflect many of the concerns of traditional still life. Lassry then deploys the image as an ambiguous, free-floating signifier, which combines with the frame to create a new set of conditions. This hybrid entity becomes a kind of epistemological puzzle, engaging the viewer’s perceptual faculties. How does its objecthood affect our reading of the image? How does the subject matter of the image affect our perception of the object?
This disruptive play between image and object extends into his film and sculpture. In the 16mm film Zebra and Woman, the camera begins at the animal’s tail before panning across its striped hide, examining the nuances of colour and form as if it were a mid-century abstraction. Passing the animal’s head, the viewer is plunged, briefly, into blackness before the incongruous appearance of an attractive woman again dislocates the pictorial space.
This set of conditions is typical of the artist’s concerns: close-looking, the indistinct space between abstraction and figuration, the combination of flatness and depth, all combining to examine how the mind reacts to different visual stimuli.
Lassry brings this set of concerns to bear on a body of sculptural work based on cabinets that further explore a range of perceptual paradoxes. Produced on a scale that reflects the unchanging dimensions of his pictures, the cabinets look both utilitarian and ornamental, both a functional object and its representation.