At one time I worked on a New York City harbor tugboat hauling garbage-laden scows to the landfill in Fresh Kills, Staten Island. There aging derricks dug out and deposited the refuse into dump trucks bound for the garbage mountain created from all of New York City's trash. The derricks, poised at the edge of a formerly pristine marshland worked round the clock, 7 days a week to relentlessly to befoul it.
This experience left me with indelible memories of the night harbor: A black, oil slicked, debris filled sea. The shore was a mottled landscape of heavy industry and patches of grey vegetation. The landfill was a vast horizon of paper, plastic and discarded objects looming on the seaside meadow.
It is the intention these art works to present this land and waterscape and focus on its features.
Images of birds, water, marsh, landfill, derricks, scows and other machinery are combined and printed on photographic glass plates. Sections of images are then duplicated and multiplied to create a montage of photographic material which is fitted to metal structures.
Two of the works consist of identical metal frameworks, each designed to hold thirty five
9 x 9" photo plates. The piece titled Empty Sky consists of photo images of sea gulls hovering above the landfill. The piece titled The Grey Sea begins with the image of a hull and propeller as a ship moves through the water, leaving a trail of eddies and whirlpools which repeat throughout the art work. Other pieces consist of images of a derrick emptying a scow, the surrounding waters, and the debris filled landscape.
I view these images with concern. It is my intention to look full into the landscape as it unfolds before me. Often, surprising juxtapositions and ironies are revealed. The landscape is a complex blend of pure and altered nature. Human hands have done much to transmute it.
These works are not about nostalgia for more pristine and beautiful times. Instead they grapple with images of a world ever changing and unresolved.
Edward Batcheller 1991
Gallery Three Zero
30 Bond St. NYC
"Tropography" 2013 54 X 54 X 3" Glass, Photo emulsion, cable, aluminum.
The art work presented for the show consists of nine-18" square glass plate photo images suspended in a grid by cables and brackets. Each 18" square plate is further divided into a scribed 3" grid. Sections of image have been randomly removed from the glass to bring the remaining images into more focus. At the intersection of each cable is suspended a 9" square glass plate photo image superimposed over the larger image field. The grid and its sub components become a mapping of the sky: The troposphere-that atmosphere closest to earth, where flora and fauna thrive. Images of birds, and dust and shadows of tree,s etch into the sky, divided and framed by the presence of the grid. The total arrangement was determined by intuitive chance-a minimal effort to create an artwork by letting the grid organize and define the relationships for the eye.
The images in this piece are arranged within a column that merges the sky and sea, branches, air and light. Birds move freely within the column as a species that thrive on water, land, and in air. Their movements are fleeting and often we only get a passing glimpse of their presence and activity.
In an atmospheric inversion the sky becomes cloud, and the sea fuses to it in one seamless event. Sun and air continuously shift to create changes in density and light.
The piece explores these aspects of light and the avian landscape from the sea to branch to air. The cable system is designed to hold the individual images in serial context vertically and across space, and represent moments in time, like the individual frames of movie film.
Inversion suggests the existence of space and habitation beyond the frame, while at the same time limits experience to the density and texture of image itself, as held in place by its architecture.
May 1, 2012
Notes on photograms, photography, and my working method.
"Secure the Shadow, Ere The Substance Fade/Let Nature imitate what Nature has Made." This early advertising motto for photography has the ring of a Victorian poem and the shiver of an epitaph. Photography's initial triumph was to arrest the fugitive and to fix a moment in time like an insect in amber. Following the development of Fox-Talbot's transient pictures, it was clear that photography could be more than just The Pencil of Nature it was also a scalpel and a spade. With a view towards permanence and the everlasting, cameras began indexing the usual, the anomalous, and the pathological. Images ranged from the trachea of the silkworm to the nimbus of the moon, life spied on unaware and the dead composed in idealized sleep."
My interest in photography is primarily focused on the earliest days of its invention: The turn of the century, the advent of modernism, machine, and the avant garde. At first it was a tool for science: a scientific invention for the study of nature. The very first photo images were made without a camera and called photograms. Objects were placed on light sensitized paper and exposed to the sun. Chemistry later revealed the image. I work the same way, but on glass.
My enthusiasm as an image maker is for those early innocent days of discovery.
My interest is in the chance nature of the creation of image; the glass plates are placed in nature at night-in trees, under water, in grasses, at the beach, etc; I never know exactly what I will get. I simply set the process in motion. The resulting images become found objects; materials I then use to create artworks.
I add, subtract, layer, and create configurations which are then held and suspended in place with various structural devices. The structures emulate the apparatus-quasi scientific devices-of the early days of photography when all manner of inventions were being patented.
My approach is to remain open to experience, gather images, whether created by the chance process of the photogram, or by the more deliberate use of the camera, and see where they take me. By letting the image determine the essence of the work, I am able to free myself of the task of creation to become an agent of the process that reveals discovery instead: I admire scientists who work for years on experiments that may reveal nothing, or something- but must stay the course of the process none-the-less. I choose to reside in that serene place of the flow and contemplation of process as a way of being in the world.
Elegies and Constructs
The works presented are designed as wordless equivalents of the elegy.
They consist of various groupings and arrangements of photographic images on glass. Images on glass immediately suggests something of the past-something that no longer exists; they become memory devices.
I produce images with a camera, and without. The images made without a camera are called photograms. These are shadow images formed by casting light on an object placed in front of the photographic plate. The images come from a wide array of thoughts and feelings (constructs) gathered with no preconceived idea in mind. Once obtained, they are treated as found objects, which are selected and organized according to my focus, now more specific and interrelated. I layer and arrange the glass photo-plates in various frames and structures to articulate these relationships. One goal is that the images become part of the structure, inseparable from the piece as a whole, like the words in a well crafted poem.
"And we: spectators always, everywhere,
looking on, but never beyond!
World overwhelms us. We order it. The order falls.
We rearrange it and come apart ourselves."
From Reading Rilke (The Eighth Elegy)
by William Gass
Art studies with an emphasis on drawing, sculpture and multi-media at Washington University School of Fine Arts, St. Louis MO. Finished my BA at SUNY Binghamton, with a major in Avante Garde Filmmaking. From there I moved to NYC, and upon the discovery of unexposed glass plate negatives from a junk shop on Canal St., I found a way in integrate my interest in film/photographic images, sculpture and structure.
I continued to make films, and experiment with my glass plate images, for several years before showing any work. Then I moved back east to Riverhead NY. I opened a sculpture and fabrication studio, further developing my designs, as well as fabricating for other artists. Over time I began to expand the use the glass plate images, and soon they dominated my designs. I began to show my portfolio to galleries in NYC and soon
had some group shows at various galleries, culminating in 2-one persons shows at "The Gallery" 40 Bond St. New York, NY. But shortly thereafter the gallery closed, and I began to search for a new venue. I was in several more group shows, but nothing blossomed. I became disenchanted and discouraged and let go the pursuit of my career. But I continued to create artworks, and began to show again at several galleries on Long Island. This culminated in a one person show at "The Ice House Gallery" in Greenport, that was nicely attended and received. But the owners financial difficulties forced the closure of that space as well. I was invited to participate in several other small group shows since that time, the most recent being this past summer.
After College, after NYC, I returned to Riverhead, where I was born. One day I wandered down River Ave, only to discover at the end of that street the Riverhead Yacht Club, tucked in nicely under the Route 105 bridge, on the Peconic River. In the water there lay the "Chesapeake" a 48' Chesapeake Bay Work boat. She was built in 1898, and was at one time a Fire Island Ferryboat, but finally converted into a live aboard-a floating home. It was for sale. I sought out the owner and bought her immediately. I spent 4 years living aboard, and on occasion, running her up and down the Peconic River. My love of art centers on my love of nature and landscape, but not just bucolic landscape-rather the industrial and urban landscape as it rejects or integrates with nature. The Peconic River, as it passes through Riverhead is about nature, city, life and decay. My work will focus on the beauty and paradox these situations and events.
Process: Photo emulsion on glass
Image: In, around, and beyond the Peconic River
Inspiration: The images and their arrangement were inspired by the shifting nature of the river as it flows from west to east.
When traveling the river one encounters currents, unexpected turns, and pools of stillness.
Images, perception, and consciousness
The photographic image can be very convincing. It is often thought of as the "capturing of a moment in time" But that is an illusion because time is continuous and cannot be captured. The image is only artifact, an index:
"the record the surf leaves
on the shore
relates tenuously to
any given wave
yet is an exact
history:" (a.r. ammons: tape for the turn of the year)
Thus we don't see time, only the object is seen and remains. It is a fragment and trace that happens while time passes, transparent and continuous; Time is unseen like perception itself: We do not see our perception, we only see the object of our perception:
"When we try to make perceptual experience itself the object of our reflection, we tend to see through it (so to speak) to the objects of experience. We encounter what is seen, not the qualities of the seeing itself.
This is a familiar theme in philosophy. An accurate description of visual experience will confine itself to, for example, mere blobs of color. When we talk of what we see (e.g. deer grazing on a lawn), we go beyond what is strictly given to us in experience." (alva noe: art as enaction, journal: art and cognition)
These issues become particularly apparent with photography because the illusion of the the image as reality is so powerful. The image in an Ansel Adams landscape, for example really does look like the mountain and the clouds and sky beyond: the white space of the photographic paper looks like light.
One of the reasons I put my images on glass is to call attention to this illusion, and to use actual elements of nature; thus the transparency and opacity in my work exists because they are a manifestation of the transmission light. Emulsion is a skin, and the image is a shadow- or at least the result of the shadow. Glass becomes a provisional reference to the transparency of perception-a plane in space; a substance that vision can at least see through and at the same time is the place where the object of perception is lodged to become an artifact of time.
Consciousness can be thought of the same way: we see the objects of our consciousness only; the words, images, thoughts, feelings and the articulations of our body, but we cannot see consciousness itself because it is transparent. We stumble over the artifacts of our thought; but never actually see the process of their making (thinking). My glass plates and their cabling, framing or whatever arrangement I construct, are the provisional scaffoldings for this notion. They act as an architecture: a place or container to hold and suspend my own thoughts along the path of the continuous and invisible, the elusive stream of nature, consciousness and time.
Sorting out of thoughts for my artworks: Intersections and crossings.
Elements of the work: iron, wood, glass, emulsion (Emulsion consists of gelatin and silver nitrate-gelatin is derived from cows ears; the gelatin in the emulsion thus becomes a kind of skin. Silver made light sensitive is embedded into that skin. Chemicals oxidize the silver to blacken it, like an old silver fork to reveal the latent image.) Frame works created to hold image are corroded: steel structures rust, become old, deteriorate. Image fades, peels; fugitive. The photograph as image in time; the moment of its taking, only.
Structure as trellis or scaffolding: a framework on which things can grow, where image finds toe hold. Image as vine growing and reaching into crevice, or reaching toward sun.
Images in sequence stilled, like frames of film in a projector; it is the intermittent motion of the film that creates the illusion of motion, of the passing of time; a projector is like a clock because of the way it marks time. Think of each individual image/frame as it clicks by.
A shadow crosses the path of our feet; a bird is flying overhead.
Branches cross and climb toward light
Roads are built across the marsh
Animals natural paths cross those of our own creation and consciousness.
Intersection defined: the crossing point where two paths meet. This locus, this moment and all of its consequences-the sum and creation of that moment-not to be judged-is taken as is. The moment the shadow crosses the film.
The shadow cast is the trace; all that remains of the moment is the image; the image being the result of the exposure and subsequent corrosion of light sensitive metal, suspended as it is, in the emulsion-skin. Image created by the energy of the sun revealed by the wash of corrosive salts.
Frames, containers, suspension systems:
"intellections have a use,
don't think they don't:
if the vine couldn't
find a natural tree, what
would become of it: if
structure without life is
meaningless, so is
life without structure:
we're going to make a
dense, tangled trellis so
lovely & complicated that
every kind of variety will
find a place in it or on it:"
(a.r. ammons: tape for the turn of the year)
Frames define and limit content;
set the stage for a wholly contained world, or:
suggest a world beyond; are fragments only.
Frame holds image
Separates it from all else
Turns image into commodity.
suspended on wall,
Image reaches beyond
Like the vine on the trellis:
Cannot be held or contained
Follows its own organic path
Toward the sun
Cables draw taut & hold image.
Cables cross and bracket
shadow of nature crosses frame
frame crosses image and is
momentarily suspended as in
the motionless silence
of the motion picture film or an
architecture of the
absence of movement.