perceptions of natural phenomena

Klea McKenna, based in San Francisco, is a photographer who creates really interesting & innovative works, through an engagement with the materiality of analogue photography. She "explores human perceptions and representations of nature, and photography's unique ability to either conform or disarm those perceptions." I really love the experimentation with film photography's unpredictable qualities, resulting in works that blur the lines between reality and fantasy, art and photography.

VISIT: In The Make

^ In April of 2009 a family home in rural Vermont burned to the ground. Fifteen months later I walked through the charred foundation and found a family photo album and a box of snapshots that had melted into a dark mass. Locals told me that that after the fire, the family had moved away and what was left there had lain exposed to the snow, rain and heat of several seasons. The object I found was a palimpsest of otherworldly patterns and colors. Nearly all recognizable imagery (the very purpose of snapshots) had dissolved, leaving an intricate visual record of the elements, chaos and loss.

Slowly, I separated each snapshot from the mass and spread them out across the table like artifacts from some future archaeological dig. The paradox of intimacy and abstraction embedded in each 4x6 sheet begged to be decoded. In photography, the “latent image” refers to an image that has been recorded, but is not yet visible, still holding the potential for meaning. But how do we talk about an image that, once visible, has receded into it’s own materiality; the rippling, cracked emulsion of a color photograph? The production of chromogenic photographs is now in rapid decline, but for decades we have depended on this material to record, rewrite and memorialize our lives. Through one destructive, albeit common, event these familiar images have been transformed into bizarre microcosmic landscapes shaped by their own chaotic material logic. This disruption interrogates our collective dependency on a very unstable medium and suggests it’s unlikely, transformative power.

Slow Burn

The Butterfly Hunter ~ A collection of McKenna's father's butterfly collection she inherited, unopened since they had been captured, each butterfly was still meticulously labeled and wrapped up in an array of magazine, newspaper, letter and notebook pages. The instinct to preserve something often means that we can covet it and keep it hidden away, but the objects can exert their will on us and preservation becomes a burden so, rather than covet her father's collection, she decided to give away every piece to gallery visitors. The act of scattering these images was meant to diffuse the responsibility of preservation and to give the objects a second life; instilling a trust in the collective.

McKenna makes an interesting observation about our inherent desire for quantity in the accumulation of an archive or collection. "In the aftermath of loss, both personal and cultural, we gather up the objects and traces left behind, compile and examine them as though these material things can tell us something about what has happened to us. Perhaps this impulse is a way of taking inventory of our loss, measuring, through objects, the size of the void."

No comments:

Post a Comment

- + HOME