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ELEGANT SCIENCE


 
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ELEGANT SCIENCE

17 November – 22 December 2018

Opening: Saturday, 17 November  6 - 8 pm

Berenice Abbott

Man Ray

Laszlo Moholy Nagy

Eadweard Muybridge

Trevor Paglen

Thomas Ruff

Thomas Struth

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Kerry Tribe

Christopher Williams

1301PE is pleased to announce Elegant Science, an exhibition curated by Susan Sherrick that focuses on the artists who have mastered the art of photographing science, space and technology: Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy Nagy, Eadweard Muybridge, Trevor Paglen, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Kerry Tribe and Christopher Williams.

In 1939 while Berenice Abbott was living and working in New York City she wrote on the subject of science and technology in photography. However it wasn't until the late 1950s while at MIT creating a new body of work that she was able to achieve and put to words the backbone of this exhibition: " We live in a world made by science, but we, the millions of laymen - do not understand or appreciate the knowledge which controls daily life. To obtain wide popular support for science, to that end that we must explore this vast subject even further and bring as yet unexplored areas under control, there needs to be a friendly interpreter between science and the layman. I believe that photography can be this spokesman, as no other form of expression can be; for photography, the art of our time, the mechanical, scientific medium which matches the pace and character of our era, is attuned to the function. There is an essential unity between photography, science’s child, and science, the parent."

Man Ray made his "rayographs" without a camera by placing objects directly on a sheet of photosensitized paper and exposing it to light. He had photographed everyday objects before, but these unique, visionary images immediately put the photographer on par with the avant-garde painters of the day. Hovering between the abstract and the representational, the rayographs revealed a new way of seeing that delighted the Dadaist poets who championed his work, and that pointed the way to the dreamlike visions of the Surrealist writers and painters who followed.

Lasźló Moholy Nagy was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. His interest in qualities of space, time, and light endured throughout his career and transcended the very different media he employed. Whether he was painting or creating "photograms" or crafting sculptures made of transparent Plexiglass, he was ultimately interested in studying how all these basic elements interact. His preoccupation with the phenomenon of light was a defining influence on every period of his work, and one of his great strengths lay in his effortless skill in translating light and spatial dimensions from one medium to another. By the time the first color photographic processes became widely available in the early 1930s, he had mastered black-and-white, and he turned immediately to this next big thing. Color proved to be one of his most important mediums, not only during his early years in Germany, but also as he reestablished himself at the New Bauhaus and the Institute of Design, both of which he initiated upon moving to the United States and settling in Chicago. Until now, with only a few exceptions, his work in color has been unknown.

Eadweard Muybridge is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion in which he used multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip used in cinematography. In the 1880s, while making work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, he produced over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion and was able to capture what the human eye could not distinguish as separate movements.

Trevor Paglen’s bucolic Fiber Optic Cable Landing Site, Keawaula, Hawaii is one image from his series of NSA-tapped telecommunications cable “choke points.” The seemingly benign looking seascapes depict some of the NSA’s most controversial surveillance activities. “Choke points are places where clusters of fiber optic cables connect the continents to each other. These cables come on shore in several places connecting the US with Europe. These points hold the interest of the NSA because they are information gold mines.”

Thomas Ruff’s press++ features large-scale photographs of archival media clippings from American newspapers that relate to the theme of space exploration. Ruff scanned the front and back of the original documents, which he has been collecting over several years, and combined the two sides in Adobe Photoshop. Interested equally in the subject matter (and any touch-ups) on the front of the paper and the words, stamps, signatures, and smudges on the back, he thus created seamless montages of image and text, in the process compromising the integrity of the former as well as adding relevant context.

Cassini 23 is based on photographic captures of Saturn taken by NASA's Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, which launched in 2004 and completed its initial four-year mission in June 2008. Ruff acquired these black and white raw images from NASA's website, where they were broadcast directly from the spacecraft and made available for public download. Through computer manipulation, Ruff infused each gray-scale image with saturated color.

Thomas Struth’s Six-Degree-of-Freedom Dynamic Test System, JSC, Houston 
is one of his many images that penetrates the key places of human imagination in order to scrutinize the landscape of enterprise, invention and digital engineering as well as the complex hidden structures of advanced technology---the image records the structural intricacy of remote techno-industrial and scientific research spaces. It reveals a fascinating critical scrutiny of the high ambitions in which the promises of scientific advancement entangle us.

Hiroshi Sugimoto uses a Van De Graaff 400,000-volt generator to apply an electrical charge directly onto film. The result in each case is a unique, instantaneous image of an electrical current, sometimes resembling a meteor shower, or a “treeing effect” on  the film. William Henry Fox Talbot, was the father of calotype. His momentous discovery of the photosensitive properties of silver alloys led to the development of positive-negative photographic imaging. The idea of observing the effects of electrical discharges on photographic dry plates reflects Sugimoto’s desire to re-create the major discoveries of these scientific pioneers in the darkroom and verify them with his own eyes.

Kerry Tribe’s Parnassius mnemosyne is a butterfly wing as seen under a microscope. In Greek mythology Mnemosyne’ refers to the personification of memory. Author Vladimir Nabokov, also a renowned lepidopterist, included his drawing of Parnassius mnemosyne in his autobiography, "Speak, Memory". The memoir is known for having been published in a string of ever-changing iterations, reflecting the instability of subjectivity and recall.

Christopher Williams’s work addresses the sociopolitical history of the medium within the context of image making. Considering our contemporary, consumer-driven society, Williams’ photographs evoke a subtle shift in our perception by questioning the communication mechanisms and aesthetic conventions that influence our understanding of reality.

UNIT 5 will be open during normal gallery hours of 11- 5 Tuesday – Saturday or 
by appointment. For more details please contact Susan Sherrick at (323) 938 5822.

UNIT 5 is an exhibition space shared by 1301PE and PRAZ-DELAVALLADE

Earlier Event: November 8
BLAKE RAYNE: BURN IT CLEAN