Exhibition Review: On the Periphery of Vision
by Larayb Abrar
On the Periphery of Vision, a group exhibition curated by Christopher Philips, features works in a variety of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture and film. On display is work by five artists: Bae Youngwhan, Michelle Charles, Koo Donghee, Shimpei Takeda and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The experiences depicted in the artworks border on the familiar yet elusive and lie just outside the grasp of perception.
Many of the featured pieces depict hazy, blurry or distorted images and were created using unconventional photographic methods. In a series of watery ink drawings based on the motif of crystal balls, Michelle Charles attempts to represent the volatility of memory and the unpredictable nature of the memories we retain. While these images were created without a camera, gallery staff members suggest they result from the application of a chemical-laden brush to a photosensitive support in a darkroom. The final product is work with fluid textures and dimensional illusion, comparable in form to impressionist paintings.
Adjacent to Charles’ work is the series “Glaze”, works by Shimpei Takeda. After his move back to Japan from the U.S. in 2014, he began to re-experience the gradual change of the seasons and wanted to observe his natural surroundings more carefully. In an approach similar to that of Claude Monet’s “Haystacks” and “Cathedral” series, where Monet sought to capture the granular differences in image depending on the time of day depicted, Takeda’s series narrows in on similar granular differences in nature, albeit with a different technique.
“I capture natural processes, such as falling rain, melting snow and ice, or changes in the moisture content of soil, directly on photographic paper, exposing it under the sun, then using a chemical process to ripen it,” says Takeda. While both Charles’ and Takeda’s artworks are camera-less, there remains a photographic element to them, thus, challenging the audience’s idea of objective vision and prompting us to expand our definitions of photography.
The exhibition continues to challenge such notions with the video installations of Koo Donghee and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The motion in these films extends photography beyond traditional stills, and adds a psychological depth to these visual experiences. This is particularly the case with Weerasethakul’s film Ashes (2012) which was created using a Lomokino analogue camera – an inexpensive, hand-cranked 35mm movie camera that shoots 20-second film clips. This technique produces an often disorienting experience filled with fleeting glimpses of everyday life, ephemeral and gone before we’ve even had time to fully process them.
Perhaps the most different from the photographic medium is Bae Youngwhan’s 2010 sculpture Ten Thousand Years’ Sleep (Black) which consists of a set of black-glaze porcelain objects arranged on nine shelves in a plywood artist’s box. Yet even in sculpture, we can find the documentary elements of photography in this work. The porcelain forms, created by the spontaneous kneading motion of the artist’s hands, call to mind the rolling hills and valleys prominently found in Korean paintings. These darkly gleaming forms also correlate with the lines of the artist’s electroencephalogram (EEG) chart, which he often exhibits with his sculptural work. In physical form, we see both the personal and cultural documented.
The exhibition, while small in space and artworks, displays a range of mediums that document, challenge, enhance or disrupt our sense of vision or perception. Images are abstract enough for viewers to form their own personal connections to them, yet concrete enough to stay true to the artist’s intention.
On the Periphery of Vision will be showing at the Jane Lombard Gallery from June 27 – August 3, 2018